TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Signing
Austin FC’s busy offseason continued Wednesday, announcing they’ve signed Finland international center back Leo Väisänen from IF Elfsborg in Sweden’s top flight.
The 25-year-old defender’s four-year contract runs through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027.
Väisänen arrives as Ruben Gabrielsen, a key addition for Austin last offseason, is reportedly departing for Lillestrom SK in his native Norway. Gabrielsen was a key part of Austin’s dramatic year-two turnaround in 2022, which ended with a Western Conference Final appearance.
“We wish Leo a warm welcome to the club and to the city of Austin,” sporting director Claudio Reyna said in a release.
“His skill set is an excellent fit for our style of play, and his quality, leadership and international experience will all serve him well here in Austin.”
Väisänen has 23 caps for Finland since debuting in 2019, joining compatriot Alex Ring – Austin’s captain and a Designated Player – at the Texas-based club.
He arrives with 16 goals in 230 career professional games, also playing extensively for Den Bosch in the Dutch second division and RoPS in Finland’s top flight.
“Austin FC is exactly what I’m looking for in the next stage of my career,” said Väisänen. “It’s a club with big ambitions, in a great city with fantastic fan support. I want to thank Claudio and Josh [Wolff] for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to play at Q2 Stadium for the first time.”
Austin, entering their third year in MLS, could see Väisänen form a partnership with Julio Cascante like Gabrielsen did last season. The Verde & Black also have Jhohan Romaña and Kipp Keller as center backs.
Aside from Väisänen, Austin have also signed free-agent forward Gyasi Zardes as a senior-level player this winter. Their third MLS season begins Feb. 25 when hosting expansion side St. Louis CITY SC (8:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).
READ MORE: MLS Transfer Tracker presented by Avant