Austin FC won’t play their first MLS game until the 2021 season, but there’s already some overseas buzz about what the expansion club will bring to Texas.
That’s, in part, thanks to part owner Matthew McConaughey, a world-recognized Hollywood star who was in London earlier this month for Chelsea’s Champions League game against Lille, a 2-1 win for the home side.
"We just got our [general manager], we broke ground, we’ve got our stadium coming up, we’ll have 22,000, we’re going to start looking for players now," McConaughey told gathered reporters. "So, soccer is coming to Austin, Texas.”
While watching Chelsea, McConaughey got to see US men’s national team star Christian Pulisic start and log 62 minutes before being subbed off for Callum Hudson-Odoi. The Blues were up 2-0 at that point, and eventually sealed passage to the knockout round.
Pulisic was transferred from Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea last January for a record fee of $73 million for an American player, though he didn’t join the EPL side until the summer. Across all competitions, he has six goals and six assists in 20 matches.
McConaughey hopes Pulisic is the start of a trend of Americans playing their way into the very highest rungs of European football, an aspiration in which MLS academies could play a role.
"Hopefully we can see more of that," McConaughey told ESPN. "Youth soccer in America is big, it is huge. There's a real commitment there. My hope is that in eight to 10 years you're going to see that generation actually having something to do with soccer around the world at a high level.
"We'll see. I don't think it's ever going to take over American football or American basketball, but it may take over hockey and baseball, soccer in America.”
McConaughey briefly took the time to plug his upcoming movie, “The Gentlemen,” but also spoke to his rediscovered passion for soccer. The growth of MLS has played a part, though his children deserve the lion's share of credit.
“I’ve got children at home, 11, 9 and 6 who are big footballers," McConaughey said. "My job takes me all over the world. What’s the one game you can find anywhere in the world? Football. The soccer ball is the greatest invitation in the world. They’ve gotten me back into it. I played for like 12 years as a kid, but it’s mainly my kids who have gotten me back into it."