In just one month, Austin FC is back—and the "biggest party in Austin" at Q2 Stadium is opening up once more to both diehards and bandwagoners as the club gears up for its second season starting Feb. 26.
Whether you're a futbol fanatic or just curious about the city's first major league team, here's everything you need to know before beer showers and big celebrations begin again at each Austin FC match.
What to knowAustin FC's Julio Cascante celebrates after scoring in Austin's last home match of the season. (Austin FC/Twitter)
For those not already onboard the Verde train, Austin FC had its first match ever on April 17, 2021, with its first home match taking place at the brand-new Q2 Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd in June. The 20,500 capacity North Austin venue has since hosted 17 home matches, all of them sold out and even held matches for the U.S. men's and women's national teams.
First-time fans can expect the sound of fan band La Murga de Austin echoing over a roaring crowd across the stadium each match. Those craving excitement can head to the supporters' section on the Southside of the stadium, where La Murga and fan clubs Los Verdes and Austin Anthem lead chants and songs all match long. Calmer fans can still find plenty to cheer for in other sections of Q2, including occasional appearances from part-owner Matthew McConaughey and other famous Austinites and local eats and beers located around the stadium.
In its first year, Austin FC captivated soccer fans across the States with its unabashed support, and the club broke the MLS record for the most jerseys sold in a single day in late 2020.
But the club's first season came with struggles—with just nine wins under its belt, Austin FC struggled to find results that matched its supporters' expectations and finished second to last in the West. Check out Austonia's analysis of the first season here.
Fast forward to January, and the club has made tweaks in its roster, including signing big-name players, as it gears up for its home opener against FC Cincinnati on Saturday, Feb. 26.
Projected starting lineup
Expect new and old to mix—on and off the pitch—for Austin FC. Just a few players who first took to the pitch for the club's first ever match remain, including Captain Alex Ring and surprise star goalkeeper Brad Stuver.
Unlike last season, Austin FC may have too much of a good thing in its striker position. With 22-year-old powerhouse Moussa Djitte signing on in the summer and the recent signing of MLS vet Maxi Urruti, it's a guessing game on who will take on the role as the club's top goalscorer. Danny Hoesen, who was pegged as Austin's top striker last season before suffering a season-long injury, will have to earn his spot back if he's to start once more. We peg Urruti, who has now played for all three Texan MLS clubs, as the starting striker for Day 1.
Those supporting the striker include forwards Diego Fagundez and Cecilio Dominguez, both of whom tied as the club's top goalscorer with seven goals each last season. Fagundez will likely compete with recent signee Ethan Finlay at right wing, but the fan favorite shouldn't lose too much playing time; he'll likely sub in for star Sebastian Driussi at attacking midfielder when needed as well.
Ring and newcomer Jhojan Valencia will likely be the yin and yang of Austin's midfield. Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said the team acquired Valencia to play more defensively so that players like Ring can take a more offensive approach, and both will be key to directing each Austin FC match.
The roster gets thinnest on defense, though Austin recently billed a big name in Norwegian center back Ruben Gabrielsen, who has experience in both Norway and France's top leagues. Gabrielsen could find a strong sub in Kipp Keller, a recent college athlete who was the No. 1 defender available in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. Last year's starters Jhohan Romana and Julio Cascante will likely vie for the final center back spot, while Zan Kolmanic and Nick Lima should keep their spots at left and right back.
The club took a gamble with Gabrielsen and may find itself short for talent once again if a crop of injuries show up once again in preseason. But with a fuller, well-picked lineup and lessons learned from last season, Head Coach Josh Wolff's sometimes-unpopular style of play will have an extra shot at redemption for his second year as head coach.
Dates to know
Diego Fagundez threw up the "LV" in honor of Austin FC fan club Los Verdes after he scored the club's first-ever goal in April 2021. (Austin FC/Twitter)
While Austin's first match won't take place until Feb. 26, a four-game preseason schedule begins at practice complex St. David's Performance Center on Wednesday, Feb. 9. All but one match will be closed to the public, but season ticket holders will be in for a treat with automatic tickets to an international friendly match against Liga MX champions Atlas FC at Q2 Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 16. Learn more about that here.
The club's first official match will take place against FC Cincinnati, who finished in last place In the MLS East in 2021, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26. Other notable matches include rivalry games against Texas teams Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas, with the first home match against FC Dallas on Saturday, June 25 and the first home Houston Dynamo match on Tuesday, July 12.
Austin FC will also take on new MLS club Charlotte FC for the first time in an away match on Wednesday, June 29 before finishing its 29-match regular season at home against the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, October 9.
Most matches will take place on Sundays and Saturday evenings, with five other matches taking place on weekdays. If the club advances to playoffs, it'll wrap up in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup held in Qatar from Nov 21-Dec 18, 2022.
Check out the full 2022 schedule here.
Where and how to watch
Austin FC's supporters' section has become known as one of the biggest parties in Austin. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
The best thing about Austin FC may not always be what's on the pitch, which is why the club's energetic home matches are in such high demand week after week. Fans can join the thousands-strong waitlist for season tickets here or purchase any regular season single-match ticket now here. Ticket prices tend to range from around $30 to over $100. Click here for everything you need to know before attending a match.
Those wanting to watch away matches can join the hundreds of Los Verdes and Austin Anthem fans that travel to support their team. Fans looking for a simpler answer can also head to watch parties and Austin FC Pub Clubs around the city to catch a match. Supporters' group HQs Hopsquad Brewing and Circle Brewing bring in-stadium excitement to every match, home or away, just steps from Q2 Stadium, while Austin FC itself hosts official watch parties each week.
For a quieter fan experience, fans can tune into each match on regional channels KXAN, CW Austin, MyNetwork, Univision, ALT 97.5 FM and TUDN Radio Austin. Eight matches will also be nationally broadcast. Austonia will provide coverage of every game as well.
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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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It may not be a home weekend for Austin's biggest sports teams, but plenty of fans are still gearing up for a road trip as both Austin FC and the Texas Longhorns take to Texas cities for their road matches this weekend.
But if you're unable to take the trip, have no fear: head to these bars and events for plenty of watch parties to provide that raucous gameday experience.
Feel free to mix and match these watch parties as you head to your favorite local bar to watch Texas football take on Baylor at 11 a.m. and Austin FC take on FC Dallas at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Austin FC official watch party—Haymaker Austin, 2310 Manor Rd.
We're turning Texas #VERDE, y'all!— Austin FC (@AustinFC) October 27, 2021
Come join us for the Official #AustinFC Watch Party this Saturday at @HaymakerAustin, pres. by @CaptainMorganUS, for exclusive merch giveaways and more! pic.twitter.com/tBeV9Bstg8
If you're looking for both matchday fun and free merch, head to Austin FC's official watch party at Haymaker Austin on Saturday.
The official bar of U.S. National Team fan base American Outlaws, this soccer-centric pub comes with comfort sandwiches, craft beer and more. Make sure to get there well before the 7 p.m. kickoff as space is limited.
Austin FC—Austin Anthem watch party, Oskar Blues 10420 Metric Blvd.
If you’re not on the road with us to Frisco, the next best place to be is at @OskarBluesATX. Doors open at noon, Always Hungry food truck on site, live music by @carlyjoofficial and $1 off a select draft will benefit @austinpetsalive. #TurnTexasVerde #CopaTejas #BringItHome pic.twitter.com/kcXBCH7HNS— Austin Anthem (@AustinAnthem) October 27, 2021
Want to get the party started seven hours early? Most of Austin FC fan club Austin Anthem will hit the road for the Dallas match this weekend, but the thousands-strong club will still bring the matchday experience all day long at Oskar Blues brewery.
Doors open at noon, giving you plenty of time to listen to music by local singer-songwriter Carly Jo Jackson and check out food from the Always Hungry food truck. A $1 discount on a select draft beer will benefit Austin Pets Alive as well.
30+ Pub Clubs
For a more relaxed viewing experience, check out Austin FC's 30+ Pub Partners to see if your neighborhood bar is on the list.
Longhorns—Texas Tailgarten at Scholz Biergarten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd.
Opening early at 10:30 a.m., UT's biggest and longest-running tailgate will be back in action at Scholz Biergarten on Saturday. Since 1866, they've brought the brews, food and Longhorn celebrations to Austinites of all crests and creeds, and they're not stopping now.
Longhorns—KLBJ watch party at Little Woodrow's, 9500 I-35 #100
Radio station KLBJ 93.7 will host a watch party of their own featuring radio host and musical artist B-DOE at Little Woodrow's Southpark Meadows sports bar. Starting at 11 a.m., this party includes specials on certain beers including Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra.
Longhorns—Dirty Martin's Place, 2808 Guadelupe St
Enjoy a bar matchday experience just off the Drag at Dirty Martin's Place at 11 a.m. sharp this Saturday! Drink specials and hamburgers will abound in the historic bars' back room. And don't forget your costume—the bar will hold a three-day-long costume contest Friday-Sunday with winners receiving up to a $100 gift card!
Longhorns—Lavaca Street Bar, 405 Lavaca St.
While they haven't posted an event just yet, this sports bar has been hosting watch parties for each game this season and is likely to bring back that burnt orange again this Saturday. Feel free to get comfortable, Verde fans—Lavaca Street Bar has hosted more than a few Austin FC watch parties as well and could play the FC Dallas match later on Saturday.
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