Austin FC's long-awaited debut is finally in sight, Major League Soccer announced on Monday that the 2021 season will begin on April 3, with 34 matches for each of the league's 27 clubs.
The announcement applauded Austin FC's debut, along with its "new world-class stadium," which was named Q2 Stadium the same day. Preseason training will begin on Feb. 22 and the regular season ends on MLS Decision Day, Nov. 7.
📰 | @MLS today announced the 2021 season will begin on Saturday, April 3 and feature 34 matches for each of the league’s 27 clubs.— Austin FC (@Austin FC) 1611608003.0
With the addition of Austin FC, the 2021 season will feature 27 clubs, 14 in the Eastern Conference and 13 in the Western Conference.
Playoffs will begin on Nov. 19 until the MLS Cup game, scheduled for Dec. 11. Prior to the playoffs, MLS clubs also will participate in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Canadian Championship and Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League in 2021.
Keeping things COVID-friendly, players will be required to quarantine and conduct individual training upon returning to their clubs, in accordance with MLS health and safety protocols. Teams will be tested every other day, plus the day before matches during the regular season.
With travel restrictions still in effect between the U.S. and Canada, the MLS said it is in contact with its three Canadian clubs and will release more details about their involvement in the near future.
MLS said it plans to announce the full regular-season schedule in the coming weeks, but for now, here are the key dates to watch out for:
Feb. 22 MLS Preseason training begins (6 weeks)
- Players will observe a mandatory quarantine upon reporting
Apr. 3-4 MLS is Back - Opening Weekend 2021
Late August MLS Heineken® Rivalry Week
Late summer MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, Leagues Cup, Campeones Cup
Nov. 7 MLS Decision Day
Nov. 19 Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs begin
Dec. 11 2021 MLS Cup
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The Texas French Bread Bakery, located on 2900 Rio Grande Street, has been completely destroyed after a fire erupted on Monday night.
The Austin Fire Department responded to the fire just before 11 p.m., where they arrived to see flames coming from the roof of the bakery. Firefighters fought the fire for about an hour before the roof collapsed.
While no one was injured in the fire, firefighters say the historic building was completely totaled.
Texas French Bread just went up in flames pic.twitter.com/agXqKN3c00
— Jordan (@AimIessFriend) January 25, 2022
AFD determined that the fire was accidental and caused by mechanical failure. AFD said the damages amounted to $1.6 million total: $1.1 million in structural damage and $500,000 in damage to the contents of the bakery.
This year, Texas French Bread will celebrate 40 years of business. Before the bakery occupied the building, it was the Rome Inn, a music venue that hosted 1970s artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Austin's first major league team is ready to extend its reach with a new collaborative sports complex The Pitch, an Austin FC destination packed with local food, beverages and Verde fervor is set to open in Northeast Austin in February.
The Pitch, a collaboration between Austin FC and Karlin Real Estate, among other entities, will be located in the 50-acre Parmer Pond District, which already hosts the club's practice facility St. David's Performance Center.
Dubbed a "true destination" for both soccer fans and the community, The Pitch will consist of multilevel shipping containers designed by Mark Odom Studio that will carve out into a 1,200-seat stadium complete with a soccer pitch made of turf, food and beverage options and a five-acre "Parmer Pond" featuring jogging trails.
Made from multilevel shipping containers, The Pitch will include food and a 1,200-seat soccer pitch made from artificial turf. (The Pitch)
“The launch of Karlin’s new food and entertainment experience will greatly enhance the Parmer development while perfectly complimenting St. David’s Performance Center,” Austin FC founder Anthony Precourt said. "The Pitch... will offer a strong variety of food options and gathering spaces for guests who will utilize St. David’s Performance Center and Parmer Field for a variety of events.”
The Pitch project lead Dave Greeley, who helped come up with the concept, is a former president of Austin FC parent company, Two Oak Ventures.
“The vision behind The Pitch at the Parmer Pond District is to be a first-of-its-kind sports, dining and entertainment destination,” said Dave Greeley, The Pitch project lead and Team Orbis president. “This will be an unmatched experience for Parmer Austin tenants, Austin FC and club supporters, and the community."
With its proximity to the practice center, the venture hopes to contribute to the growing "soccer city" of Austin during Austin FC matches and youth games with the Austin FC Academy hosted at the St. David's Performance Center.
The Pitch hopes to converge both community and club interests with Austin FC. (The Pitch)
In addition to the soccer pitch, stadium and pond, The Pitch will provide a foody experience made by the creative team behind Austin staples like Fareground and Easy Tiger. The complex will offer local bites including:
- Ranger Burger, which offers beers and burgers made from highly-coveted Wagyu beef direct from Ranger Cattle in East Austin
- Ga Roti, which merges flavors from Northern Vietnam with the culinary techniques of France to create a unique rotisserie chicken joint
- Taco Flats, a local taco chain serving Mexico City-style tacos, micheladas and more
- Sand Bar, which fulfills its namesake with beauty cocktails, local beers and a sand volleyball court
- Coffee Club, a coffee shop and bakery
- Corner Kick Bar, the soccer-focused main bar of The Pitch complete with "tunes, TVs and (a) beer garden"
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