Jersey Number: 7
Hometown: Rafaela, Argentina
Former club: Club Atletico Talleres
Austin FC spent big bucks on Tomas Pochettino, an attacking midfielder from Argentina who went Verde off a $2.5 million contract.
Before he signed on as the club's second Designated Player, "Toto" Pochettino transferred from Club Atlético Talleres in Argentina's Primera División. Pochettino appeared in 62 matches with Club Atlético Talleres, logging seven goals and 10 assists in 62 matches from 2018-21.
With Talleres, Pochettino was an expert at free kicks, and he's transferred that over to his newest club.
"It's something that I'm quite used to," Pochettino said. "I used to do a lot of set pieces and a lot of free kicks back in Talleres so it's something that I have a lot of practice with."
Before the club, Pochettino started his career at the Boca Juniors U-20 team, followed by Boca Juniors II in 2014. Pochettino then helped the Boca Juniors first team to win the Argentine Primera División in 2015 and was loaned to Defensa y Justicia, where he made 51 appearances, scored four goals and made five assists.
With Austin FC
That field-level look to start your day. pic.twitter.com/inyYiBdyXl— Austin FC (@AustinFC) April 4, 2021
As the team's second Designated Player, Pochettino gained a starting position in the club's first match as a creative midfielder for the club.
"Tomás is an exciting and attack-minded midfielder we have been monitoring for some time. He has the technical and tactical qualities we are looking for in a Designated Player," Wolff said. "He will offer us pace and versatility in the midfield, and we are confident he will make an immediate impact on our attacking end."
Pochettino said that he was happy to make the move to the MLS and join Austin FC for its first-ever season.
"I think being a Designated Player's a beautiful responsibility, and I don't concentrate much on it," Pochettino said. "I'm just here to be a part of the team, and I hope that the rest of the team and the technical staff can trust me."
So far, Pochettino has shown that he can be trusted to put the ball in the back of the net. Pochettino scored the first-ever Austin FC goal against an MLS opponent against the Houston Dynamo as part of La Copita, and he put another one in off a free kick against San Antonio FC to close out the preseason. In the team's first-ever match against LAFC, Pochettino saw some of the most chances out of any player on the team, and he proved to be a solid defensive player when needed as well.
Both Pochettino and Wolff have acknowledged that they come with different skillsets: while Pochettino is used to having more liberty as he channels the ball up the field, Wolff has implemented a stricter regimen to help with the team's cohesiveness.
"Tomas is probably used to having more freedom," Wolff said. "So we're bridging that to find the right balance for him, and I think that'll be a continuous growth thing for both of us. And we need to because he's got real quality, and we've seen that in the moments that he's played for us in these games."
Pochettino's biggest goal, aside from scoring, is to leave a legacy behind and make a run for the playoffs.
"I want to leave a beautiful legacy behind in Austin," Pochettino said. "I think my main goal is to make the playoffs (and) I'm also very set on listening to the way that Josh coaches and being the best version of myself for the team."
Off the pitch
Born in Rafaela, Argentina, Pochettino might be the farthest from home in Austin. Although he missed some of preseason due to COVID protocol, Pochettino said he's still had time to connect with his teammates on and off the pitch.
"Everything in life takes time to adapt, and in soccer, I have to rely on my teammates, both on and off the pitch," Pochettino said. "I've been stuck in a hotel for a couple of weeks, but throughout the preseason, I've gotten to know my teammates a lot more. And we've built some great friendships so far."
Though far from home, Pochettino can find a familiar face in fellow DP Cecilio Dominguez. Pochettino and Dominguez went head-to-head as opposing players in the Primera División, but now Pochettino says he's glad to get to know the person behind the player.
"I knew that he's a good player, I know that he wants to get to the ball," Pochettino said. "But now that I've known him as a person off the pitch, I can attest that he's a good an overall great person, so I'm really excited that I get to play alongside him now."
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.