Transfer Tracker

Norway return: Ruben Gabrielsen departs Austin FC after 1 season

Ruben Gabrielsen


As one Austin FC center back arrives, another one exits.

Shortly after announcing they’ve signed Finland international Leo Väisänen, the Verde & Black announced Thursday they’ve transferred Ruben Gabrielsen to Norwegian club Lillestrøm SK.

The 30-year-old defender signed with Austin in January 2022 on a multi-year deal, though now returns to his native country after just one season. This will be his second stint with Lillestrøm, after playing for the Norwegian top-flight (Eliteserien) side from 2009-14.

“Though it’s difficult to say goodbye to Austin FC, as a parent of a child who requires special care, returning to Lillestrøm and Norway is what’s best for me and my family at this time," Gabrielsen said in an official statement.

Gabrielsen was a mainstay during Austin’s year-two turnaround, which ended with a Western Conference Final defeat to eventual champions LAFC in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. He tallied two goals and three assists in 36 games across the regular season and playoffs, often partnering with Julio Cascante.

“We want to thank Ruben for his tremendous contributions to Austin FC,” head coach Josh Wolff said. “After a great season in 2022, Ruben indicated that due to personal circumstances, returning to Norway was in the best interest of his family. He’s a top professional, we wish him well in the next step in his career, and he will always be welcomed with open arms in Austin.”

As Gabrielsen departs, Austin’s center back corps becomes Väisänen, Cascante, Jhohan Romaña and Kipp Keller. Their 49 goals against last season were midtable league-wide.

Austin’s third MLS season begins Feb. 25 when hosting expansion side St. Louis CITY SC (8:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).