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Jhohan Romana is a smiling face on the Austin FC roster. (Tigo Sports/Twitter)

Jersey Number: 3

Hometown: Apartadó, Colombia

Position: Defender

Age: 22

Former club: Club Guarani


Background

When Austin FC sent two of its first signees, Rodney Redes and Cecilio Dominguez, to Club Guarani on loan, they weren't expecting to pick up a new teammate along the way. Enter Jhohan Romaña, a young center back whose aerial tricks and athleticism took them by surprise. By December 2020, Romaña joined the ranks alongside Redes and Dominguez. He was headed to Austin.

"It was a very beautiful moment for me," Romaña said. "This is something I was looking for for a long time. Being here changes your life."

Before signing with ATXFC, Romaña was the starting center back for Guarani, making 30 appearances with the club in the 2019-20 season. Romaña's lone goal with the club came in the 2020 CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores, where he made 12 appearances and 11 starts for the team. With Redes and Dominguez by his side, Romaña helped the team to the finals of the Copa Libertadores, which is South America's highest level of futbol competition.

Prior to Guarani, Romaña spent the 2016-18 seasons with Independiente Medellin, the six-time Colombian Championship team. Romaña started in both appearances with Medellin and helped the club win the 2016 Torneo Apertura, a Latin American futbol tournament.

With Austin FC

Romaña seemed to struggle with adapting to his newest league in preseason, but his confidence came back in full swing when he started in Austin FC's inaugural match and again against Denver.

"He's obviously got a nice physical presence and athleticism," Head Coach Josh Wolff said. "I love that he grinded and hung in there (against LAFC)... He had some very good moments."

At 6'1 and 224 pounds, Romaña's physical presence is easily made on the pitch. Even as one of the largest and strongest members of the team, it's his agility and aerial skills that set him above the rest.

In preseason, it was Romaña's confidence, not his skill set, that kept him from realizing his potential.

"It's taking time, but he's learning," Wolff said. "It's a new challenge. It's a new environment and our opponents look very different so far."

Romaña is one of five starters who made their MLS debut against LAFC, and at 22, he's among the youngest. Romaña's spot at center back is secured for now, and if he stays at the level he played at LAFC, he could have the position for good. However, veteran Julio Cascante will keep him competing for the starting spot throughout the season.

As the most inexperienced player on the back line, Romaña gets the unique opportunity to play alongside experienced players including former Kansas City captain Matt Besler, Nick Lima and Ben Sweat. Even with the language barrier, Romaña said Besler and goalkeeper Brad Stuver, who speaks a little bit of Spanish, work to keep him in the loop during practices and games. They've even come up with sign language gestures to make sure everyone's on the same page.

"Besler is a player with a lot of experience, he's really good," Romaña said. "Sometimes it's difficult for me in terms of the language, but we try to complement each other the best way we can."

Off the pitch

(Jhohan Romana/Instagram)

A native of Apartadó, Colombia, Romaña has now played in three countries. He's played alongside Redes and Dominguez in two of those nations, something that Romaña says makes them close on and off the pitch.

"I think Cecilio and Rodney are excellent players," Romaña said. "They're really good and we know each other very well. For me personally, it's really good because I know how they move. We interact with each other very well, and that makes the interaction and the overall performance much easier.

Eventually, Romana wants to tack on another continent and play in Europe, though he's very satisfied with the MLS so far.

"I've always wanted to watch Major League Soccer matches, (so) when my agent told me that being here was a possibility, (it was) a very beautiful, challenge for me," Romaña said. "This is definitely a step closer to going to Europe, and I'm so far thrilled to be here. The infrastructure that you see here, the facilities you see here, that's something that I'm very pleased to see."

For now, however, Austin is home for Romaña, and he's excited to explore the Texas Capitol as he adjusts to his new city.

"It's truly a blessing for me to be able to arrive to Austin," Romaña said. "I feel very happy. This is a wonderful and beautiful city. And obviously I hope later on the road I can get to know a little bit more of Austin. I haven't been able to go out as much, but I really hope that I can in the future."

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Austonia file photo. (Christa McWhirter/Austonia)

Police have arrested one of two suspects involved in a mass shooting at Austin's Sixth Street in the early morning hours on Saturday, leaving 14 people injured and two in critical condition.

The arrest was made by the Austin Police Department and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. One suspect is still at large.

Police started receiving 911 phone calls at 1:24 a.m about a man that fired shots into a large crowd, and responded to a chaotic scene on the 400 block of East Sixth Street. Detectives are surveying video footage captured by bystanders and cameras on the scene to identify the suspect.

The Austin Police Department has narrowed down their search to two male suspects and believes there was "some type of disturbance" between the two parties.

No deaths have been reported. Fourteen victims are receiving treatment in a hospital in stable condition with one treated in an emergency room; two are in critical condition.

According to Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon, "almost all" of the victims are innocent bystanders but police have not ruled anyone out at this time.

Shooting on 6th Street Austin Texas 6-12-2021 (Aftermath) youtu.be


The shooting occurred on the weekend of the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally. With lots of people downtown, police say it was difficult to get EMS in and out of the scene. Police arrived while the scene was still an "active threat," officers "immediately began lifesaving measures" and drove six victims to the hospital in their squad cars, said Chacon, and four were transported in ambulances.

Chacon said that the incident is believed to be isolated, and they optimistic they will be successful in getting the two suspects into custody. Multiple departments, including APD, the FBI, Texas DPS and the ATF, are involved in the investigation.

Austin police are also requesting state troopers for patrol assistance in the coming days. Chacon stressed staffing issues are increasingly making responding to emergency calls "very hard."

"Overall, we remain a safe city," Chacon said. "Also keep in mind when you come downtown, you need to be safety conscious. Be vigilant of your environment and your surroundings."

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in Orlando, Florida. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call 911 or 512-472-TIPS.

This story was updated at 2:47 p.m. to include new information and will be updated as more details are revealed.

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