PROFILE: With a family legacy to uphold, Sebastian Berhalter joins Austin FC as the club's youngest player
Jersey number: 6
Hometown: London, England
Former club: Columbus Crew SC
Sebastian Berhalter's life isn't like most 19 year olds.
As the youngest player on the Austin FC team, Berhalter has already clutched the MLS Cup trophy before. He's met Christiano Ronaldo and had his first professional start at 18. His name might seem familiar, too—that's because his father is none other than former Columbus Crew SC head coach and current USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter.
With the Berhalter family name to uphold, Berhalter signed with Columbus Crew SC as a Homegrown Player in 2020 after spending six seasons with Columbus Crew SC's Academy from 2014-2019. With nine appearances and four starts on the team last year, the young Berhalter helped the Crew all the way to the MLS Cup Championship.
Berhalter said it was hard to leave the MLS Cup Champions but that he was looking forward to gaining experience while he's on loan with Austin FC.
"It was certainly a tough decision, leaving the best team in the league," Berhalter said. "Me and my dad and everyone at Columbus saw it as a good opportunity to go here and get minutes and be part of a great culture and a great coaching staff."
With Austin FC
Austin FC acquired Berhalter on loan from Columbus Crew SC with the option to trade for his rights at the end of the season.
As the team's youngest player, he likely won't crack the starting lineup. However, Berhalter will get the opportunity to play behind defensive midfielder Alex Ring, who is widely regarded as one of the top five in his position in the MLS.
Austin FC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said the club was excited to strengthen the team's depth with Berhalter.
"Sebastian is a young and talented midfielder who will add depth to our growing roster," Reyna said. "We are excited to have him join the Club and look forward to his continued professional development with Austin FC."
Berhalter also has a history with Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff. Wolff, who saw Berhalter grow up in Germany and has ties to him with the Columbus Crew, said that Berhalter plays beyond his years because of the high level of play he's always been exposed to.
"He's a young player, but he doesn't look like a young player," Wolff said. "He's going to play minutes for us, and his development is continuing, and that's also our responsibility is to continue to make him better."
Berhalter said he remembers playing with Wolff and Wolff's sons, Tyler and Owen, in Germany while both fathers played in the German Bundesliga. The two families also lived just two miles apart in Columbus, deepening their bond.
Just like their fathers before them, Owen and Berhalter now grace the same field on a professional level. While Berhalter is officially signed, 16-year-old Owen has been repping Austin FC during preseason.
"It's pretty surreal," Berhalter said. "(From) just kicking the ball in my basement and now be able to share the field with him is really cool. And with my dad and Josh, it's great to be able to work with Josh since I've known him for so long."
Off the pitch
Just as Gregg Berhalter left Columbus Crew to coach the men's national team, his son stepped up to the club for his professional debut.
Gregg still got a chance to see him play for his first-ever MLS start against the New York Red Bulls in 2020 and said he was proud of his son's dedication to the family's favorite sport.
"Now I know how my parents felt all these years," Berhalter said. "We're proud of him. It shows that he's worked hard for many years and all that hard work and dedication has paid off."
Berhalter is a legacy on both sides—his mother, Rosalind Santana, was a soccer player for the Tar Heels herself.
Although he grew up in Columbus, Berhalter was born in London and lived in Germany as a child.
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Samsung might soon be making more moves in the Austin metro.
The tech giant, which made waves as it announced plans to build a $17 billion chip plant in Taylor in late 2021, might be looking to expand in the Northeast Austin area, according to an Austin Business Journal report.
ABJ said the South Korean company is seeking more tax breaks from nearby Taylor and Manor school districts. The company filed documents requesting Chapter 313 incentives related to the breaks Saturday, and ABJ said each district will review the requests separately on Tuesday.
"While we do not have specific plans to build at this time, the Chapter 313 application process is part of our long-term planning to evaluate the viability of potentially building additional fabrication plants in the U.S.," Samsung Austin Semiconductor LLC.'s director of communications, Michele Glaze, told the ABJ.
But Samsung has made headlines for more than just the $17 billion plant: In early 2022, the company caught heat for two separate spills of millions of gallons of wastewater into tributaries near its semiconductor plant.
While no expansion is promised, ABJ speculates that expansions could occur at the 1,200 acre planned Taylor factory or near the chipmaking factory on Austin's East Parmer Lane. Both expansions could bring even more revenue and job opportunities to Samsung's Texas home.
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A first minute error gave Austin FC an early setback, but with the help of two red cards and two second-half goals, the Verde and Black still forced a last-minute tie in a messy home battle against Orlando City SC Sunday night.
With the 2-2 draw, Austin dropped from No. 1 in the MLS West conference but still earned a point in the standings thanks to a penalty kick goal from Sebastian Driussi and a breakthrough shot from striker Moussa Djitte, who scored his first goal with the club in the final minute of play.
Here are the top three takeaways from the match:
A fateful mistake
Just days after his highlight reel-worthy LAFC performance, Austin keeper Brad Stuver scratched heads as he gave away a goal seconds into the game. Stuver's fateful pass went straight to Orlando's Junior Urco, who was already in the box and tapped a quick pass to Ercan Kara to score the first goal of the match.
The mistake forced Austin to chase a tie for the rest of the match, especially as center back Ruben Gabrielsen benched himself in the 20th minute. The team later said Gabrielsen has come down with something similar to a stomach bug.
Orlando would score two minutes later, and Austin FC left the first half looking like the opposite of its "Best in the MLS" self from just days prior.
The two red cards
By the 60th minute of the match, however, the tides had turned. Orlando's Rodrigo Schlegel, who had already racked up a yellow card on a handball, was ousted from the game two minutes later for yet another handball, this time in the penalty box.
Austin's main man Sebastian Driussi took the kick and sent it in for his eighth goal of the season to make it 2-1.
And just over five minutes later, Orlando's Cesar Araujo was the second man in purple kicked out of the match after he kicked Alex Ring on a slide tackle near the box. Austin was left with just over 20 minutes, and just nine opponents left, to try and tie it up.
The 'Mouss' is loose!
As the whistle blew and regulation time ran out, Orlando seemed to have won the match. The team had withstood many, many close calls—including two shots off the post from Austin FC's Diego Fagundez and Maxi Urruti—as Austin FC flooded the box with 22 cracks at a goal.
But thanks to the chaotic nature of the game, Austin FC was given nine extra minutes to tie it up. Moussa Djitte was the one who finally broke through five minutes into stoppage time, earning his first goal in Verde to put a 2-2 cap on the wild home match.
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