Life is good for Austin FC.
The team is 3-0 in preseason scrimmages, has just moved into the multi-million dollar St. David's Performance Center and is gearing up for a true Texas rivalry at La Copita starting this weekend.
At his weekly preseason press conference, Head Coach Josh Wolff said the team's been "waiting for this moment" as they finally make themselves at home at St. David's.
Feels good to be here. pic.twitter.com/U4AYNq0whP
— St. David's Performance Center (@StDavidsPC) March 28, 2021
"This is their workspace, this is their safe space, so there's a real flow to the building," Wolff said. "I think the players really enjoy being here, and they know they have a first-class facility, and that excites them every day when they come to work next."
The team has already shut out two USL teams in preseason, but a much bigger challenge awaits this weekend. The team is set to play at their practice center for the first time as they face Lone Star rival Houston Dynamo at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
With over three weeks of training behind them, Wolff said the team has found consistency and identity as a team. They've also switched from focusing on an offensive strategy to implementing their defensive structure, something that Wolff said will be important as they go up against prominent West Division teams like LAFC, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers.
"By no means do I expect us to have the ball the entire game," Wolff said. "We'll continue to work on defensive structure. Going to LA, against Seattle and Portland, these are good teams that operate at a high level and we want to be one of those teams when we have the ball and when we don't have the ball."
While they've found consistency in their weeks on the grind, Wolff said that the La Copita matchups will help the team secure their first-ever starting lineup.
"We're going to have to start defining who our starters are and really start locking in how we prepare for our first games of the season," Wolff said. "These are the games that will allow us to do that. And then that'll help shape our decisions come April 17."
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Many players have been praised by Wolff by now, including Alex Ring, Tomas Pochettino and Kekuta Manneh. This week's standout is Designated Player Cecilio Dominguez, a powerful forward who Wolff says brings both life and competitiveness to the group.
"He brings real character and quality to the group," Wolff said. "He's got a lively personality, he's super charismatic, but when he plays he competes, and those are things that you hope for as a coach."
After the home Houston match, the team will get a taste of travel as they head up I-35 to play FC Dallas for their first-ever away match.
"Dallas gives us a great opportunity to do a bit of a dress rehearsal of what it's like to travel," Wolff said. "We've got three games in seven days, so we're going to use the entire squad in different ways."
While the La Copita matches are closed to the public and media, they will be streamed on the brand-new Austin FC and Q2 Stadium app, available on the iTunes App store and Google Play store.
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- San Marcos favorite Industry Burger opens "mid-October" on E. 5th, featuring "low key healthy" Texas fare.
- Still Austin Whiskey Co. introduces "The Artist," its new rye whiskey.
- Domain NORTHSIDE favorites Bakery Lorraine, Grimaldi's Pizzeria, Jeni's Ice Cream and Sprinkles released their fall flavors.
- Cinnaholic at The Arboretum opens Friday, October 14, serving "create your own" cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats.
- San Francisco's Marufuku Ramen opens next Wednesday, October 12, in the Mueller District.
- Carpenter Hotel announces its popup food truck, Lil Carpenter, open Fri-Sun both ACL weekends, serving what you want, early to late, coffee to donuts, to dogs/burgers/fries/beer.
With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.
Artists and music lovers are set to pack into Zilker Park for The Austin City Limits Music Festival in the coming two weekends. Following that, Formula One will bring racing fans to the Circuit of the Americas.
For those two events, the airport is anticipating high passenger days with 30,000 or more people departing flights.
ABIA recommends arriving at least two and a half hours in advance for domestic flights on those days. For ACL, it's expected on both Sundays of the festival along with the Monday and Tuesday after. The F1-driven high passenger days are expected on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-26.
\u201c#AustinCityLimits visitors, you\u2019re in for a weird and wild ride \ud83e\udd18\u262e\ufe0f \n\nFlying in or out of our airport? We got firm and fun tips for you: https://t.co/RawVRalOXN\u201d— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)) 1664894083
F1, especially, could draw in loads of travelers as the three-day event saw 400,000 attendees last year. ABIA warns that highways leading to the airport may see even higher traffic than usual around the event and that travelers should plan their route accordingly.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, said travel numbers come in 24 hours in advance. So, it's hard to predict if the airport will see travel volumes at the same levels that have happened around previous F1 races or if it'll top ACL's flight traffic.
Still, she says historical knowledge points to a chance for it.
“We've had that Monday after F1 break the record for single busiest in airport history," Grimmett said. "So context clues I would say yes, but I can't confirm that. But the historical background points to that."
In anticipation of the high volume of flyers, the airport received additional TSA officers for security screening through the end of October. To prepare even further, the Department of Aviation and partners hosted a job showcase and hiring fair to address the continued labor shortage the airport has experienced.
Relief from hectic travel days is on the horizon with November likely to see a slowdown.
"I don't anticipate it will be as busy as October just because we don't have as many events going on," Grimmett said. "Thanksgiving is kind of our primary holiday that we see a lot of passengers coming in and out of the airport."