A number of MLS teams since 2017 have shown that, when done right, you can immediately field a competitive team during your expansion season. It’s not easy, but it’s certainly possible. Austin hope to be the latest in that mold.
While co-owner Matthew McConaughey’s enthusiasm for Austin FC and the club’s brand new stadium have gotten a big share of headlines, sporting director Claudio Reyna and head coach Josh Wolff have been implementing their vision ahead of the club’s inaugural match. Mixed with a blend of quality, MLS-proven players and high-priced imports from abroad, Austin’s roster looks strong on paper.
Now it's time to see how the pieces fit on grass. Oh, and they still kept one more Designated Player spot open for perhaps a midseason boost where they see fit.
- N/A – expansion team for 2021
Austin’s first DP, Dominguez’s talent has never been in question. The Paraguayan international has featured for the likes of Club America and Independiente before coming to MLS. Expect him to line up at left wing, cutting in on his preferred right foot, though he can play through the center or on the right as well.
MLS clubs have had a solid track record when scouting and acquiring No. 10s from Argentina and Pochettino is the latest. Arriving from Talleres de Cordoba, Pochettino will be the creative hub in central midfield, tasked as the creator-in-chief for Dominguez and Co. ahead of him.
The blockbuster trade of the offseason, Ring arrives in Austin to anchor the expansion side’s midfield. He brings plenty of MLS experience, leadership and a winning track record after four seasons with NYCFC. He’s among the league’s very best No. 6s and a cornerstone for Austin.
Young Player to Watch
Austin surprised some folks at this year’s MLS SuperDraft, taking the Virginia Tech product No. 1 overall. A box-to-box midfielder, he stands a good chance to earn meaningful minutes in Wolff’s expected midfield trio alongside Ring and Pochettino. Not a bad pair of players to help navigate a budding talent’s rookie season.
Projected Starting XI
- Goalkeepers (3): Brady Scott, Brad Stuver, Andrew Tarbell
- Defenders (8): Matt Besler, Julio Cascante, Hector Jimenez, Freddy Kleemann, Zan Kolmanic, Nick Lima, Jhohan Romana, Ben Sweat
- Midfielders (7): Sebastian Berhalter, Diego Fagundez, Daniel Pereira, Tomas Pochettino, Alex Ring, Ulises Segura, Jared Stroud
- Forwards (6): Cecilio Dominguez, Jon Gallagher, Danny Hoesen, Kekuta Manneh, Rodney Redes, Aaron Schoenfeld
Armchair Analyst's Breakdown
- Strength: The overall roster build has been impressive as Austin have collected a mix of proven and promising pieces at almost every spot, including one of the league’s best defensive midfielders in Ring. That is a very solid foundation to build from.
- Weakness: As solid as the foundation is everywhere else, they’ve got nothing but questions at center forward. Austin have bet big on Hoesen, and if he can’t win the starting job (which seems like a decent bet given his track record), the options behind him are a pair of journeymen with 10 career goals between them.
- Charles Boehm: 12th in West
- Tom Bogert: 8th in West
- Susannah Collins: 10th in West
- Matthew Doyle: 9th in West
- Sam Jones: 11th in West
- Michael Lahoud: 5th in West
- Joe Lowery: 9th in West
- Jillian Sakovits: 12th in West
- Greg Seltzer: 11th in West
- Steve Zakuani: 12th in West