Austin FC has been making moves in the past month to fill out its roster before the 2021 MLS season kicks off. With the addition of midfielder Diego Fagundez, the club has made 16 acquisitions before their inaugural season and still on the hunt for more players to help fill out their roster.
Diego is #VERDE! 🌳 Welcome to Austin FC, Diego Fagundez! https://t.co/fZWRBBSdMZ— Austin FC (@Austin FC)1609858800.0
The 25 year old is a former member of the MLS Club New England Revolution and made his first MLS appearance at 16. With 10 years of professional experience, Faugndez adds another scoring option for Head Coach Josh Wolff and his staff.
Faugndez was second all-time in Revolution goals scored for a career with 53 and is the youngest MLS member ever to reach 100 appearances which he did in 2015.
"Diego is a player in the prime of his career who has scored over 50 goals, played over 250 matches and comes with significant MLS experience. We are fortunate to bring a 25-year-old with vast and proven experience to the Club," says Claudio Reyna, Austin FC Sporting Director. "Diego has played in a number of positions throughout his career and his dynamic positional flexibility is a strength that Austin FC will have the opportunity to benefit from."
Im excited to be joining @AustinFC for the 2021 season. #verdenow https://t.co/bgj0iFg1KB— Diego Fagundez (@Diego Fagundez)1609859005.0
Fagundez will be the fifth midfielder on the roster and joins former Columbus Crew SC Hector Jimenez as the second midfielder the club has signed this month. Austin FC has made eight roster moves since the expansion draft on Dec. 16 and has been fleshing out a roster of experienced vets. The newest member of the MLS looks like they could be trying to win right away in front of home fans.
"I'm excited to start this new chapter in my career, alongside a Club creating a new chapter for an amazing city like Austin," says Fagundez. "I am ready and motivated to represent Austin FC next season, and I look forward to giving my best for the Club."
MLS is reportedly looking at early March as the start date for the 2021 season, but Austin FC has not announced when they will have their home opener.
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Austin FC couldn't find the stamina to fight off a 2-0 loss against LAFC for their inaugural match on Saturday.
The match, which saw No. 21 Austin FC go head-to-head with No. 2 LAFC in Los Angeles, was broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes.
Salute the support. 👏
It's only the beginning for @AustinFC. pic.twitter.com/TduorqYr2y
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 18, 2021
Eleven players took the stage as Austin FC players for the first time, with five starters making their MLS debut. "Ringleader" Alex Ring took the captain's armband and wore it well. The defensive midfielder could be seen leading his teammates through their first ever match, but it wasn't enough to stage an Austin takeover in LA.
In the signature style of Head Coach Josh Wolff, the team played with quickness and intensity, nearly connecting on several fast breaks. It was harder for them to stay in front, however, something that Wolff credits with quick decision making and a tough LAFC defense.
"We have a quick attacking team, but I think when you make quick attacks and it fizzles it's just about some decision making," Wolff said. "Are we in position to finish attacks? If not, can we reestablish our attack and get stuff better?"
The club was given some generous breaks from No. 2 LAFC, who had one or both of their star DPs out for the half. While forward Diego Rossi is out for the entire match due to a hamstring injury, Carlos Vela was accidentally pulled too soon on what turned out to be a miscommunication.
"He gave us the sign that he needed to come off," LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said on broadcast. "I can't say more than maybe it's my fault."
LA pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense wasn't initially as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and a 34-year old Matt Besler held his own in center back.
As the second half commenced, however, it became clear that LAFC had the advantage over Austin's first major league team.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver had his work cut out for him, fending off 24 shot attempts, 11 of which were on goal. He didn't have much time to prepare, either: in the first 30 seconds of play, Stuver had already made a save to keep the match 0-0.
LAFC finally connected in the 61st minute of play as Corey Baird shot one into the bottom right corner. The team capitalized off their momentum and put one past Stuver a second time, drawing roars of approval from the LAFC crowd.
While some last-minute attempts from Jon Gallagher and others were made, Austin FC didn't have the endurance to bring a tie. After seven additional minutes of stoppage time, the club lost their first match 2-0.
While the scoreboard tells one story, Wolff said that the team did well considering the skill of LAFC and the pressure of their club debut.
"We've got to be realistic," Wolff said. "This is the first time this organization has been in front of TV with an opportunity to show itself and I think there were some promising moments. And we're going to maximize those and continue to try to develop those, but there's lots to build on."
The team may have lost, but it still won the support of thousands of Verde fans, dozens of which made it to watch their team's first match. When Stuver and the team made it to bthe stadium, Los Verdes fans were already there to show support, and Stuver said his wife saw the same back in Austin.
"The moment that we pulled into the stadium, we saw Black and Verde fans cheering us on as we got to the stadium," Stuver said. "During warm up, you can just look around and see different groups sitting in different sections of the stadium and it's just truly amazing to see the support in our first game. We know that we want to give the fans everything, because this we play for the city and we play for them."