Alexi Lalas was the surprise emcee at the long-awaited announcement party on Tuesday, as Major League Soccer confirmed that Austin FC will become the league's 27th team, starting play in 2021. And quite a party it was, with shirts, scarves, and craft beer flowing; Mayor Steve Adler and five City Council members attesting to the civic support (see "¡Dale, Austin FC! MLS Makes It Official," Jan. 18); an exuberant contingent from the Austin Anthem soccer fan club shouting, singing, and chanting their undying support; and a full satellite uplink to beam the show to a worldwide audience.
It's been a long time coming and an unlikely path getting here, but Austin is a market MLS has wanted for some time now. There was repeated reference to our perfect soccer demographic – young, wealthy, worldly, diverse – and judging from the enthusiasm and professionalism on display in the room, it looks likely to be a perfect fit. To be sure, there will be a lot more ups and downs before opening day and a lot more questions to be answered as a barren tract of land in North Austin becomes a state-of-the-art soccer stadium within the next 49 months(!), but on this day in Downtown Austin, a threshold clearly seemed to have been reached, and years of coulds and mays and ifs were swept aside: Austin has a Major League Soccer team.
The U.S. Women kick off their World Cup preparations with a game against host France in Le Havre this Sat., Jan. 19, at 1:30pm on FS1.