Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff might have to be an honorary fan of Paraguayan side Club Guarani.
Wolff's club acquired Guarani talent Rodney Redes as their first-ever player back in the summer, so extensively scouting a potential target turned into monitoring his performance on loan. Austin then acquired Cecilio Dominguez and sent him on loan to Guarani to play with Redes. He and others around Austin watch every Guarani game.
Now, they've just acquired a third player from that team.
Austin signed center back Jhohan Romana from Guarani this week, another significant addition as they continue to build out their roster.
“For the way we want to play, we need this athleticism," Wolff told MLSsoccer.com. "We need players technical and calm on the ball. At 22 years old he’s had some great experiences in big competitions. You’re seeing him perform against high-level teams, high-level players and dealing with the rigors of the game."
The 22-year-old made 30 appearances this season with Guarani, including 12 in the Copa Libertadores.
“It’s a fierce competition with high-quality," Wolff said. "Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay— everywhere. Those games tell a lot. This was a player tracked by a number of big clubs, we are fortunate to get him.”
Austin see big things in Romana, both immediately and in the future.
“The way we want to play is with the ball, disorganizing the opponent. That starts with your goalkeeper, your center backs taking that on," Wolff said. "If we can enhance those qualities, he’ll be a really complete player. He’s got really good physical tools. Dueling, competing for the ball in the air, control and balance, there’s a lot of things we like about him … We see the potential and we’re going to do everything we can to maximize that.”
Austin currently have 14 players on the roster as their inaugural squad is taking shape.
Romana likely slots in as someone expected to start, behind Alex Ring and next to Nick Lima, two players the club acquired in separate trades within MLS. Both Wolff and sporting director Claudio Reyna have spoken often about focusing on the club's spine and Romana is the latest addition to solidify that area of the field.
“We’re still in it for players right now, we’re trying to get some free agents across the line and some offers out for players abroad," Wolff said. "It’s a work in progress. We feel pretty good about where we are.”