Soccer Watch: 10 Steps Toward Major League Soccer for Austin FC
I usually list the Top 10 soccer stories of the year in this space, but in a year defined by empty stadiums and daily plague tests, there's little to celebrate. Locally, UT truncated their season, and St. Edward's canceled theirs altogether and scrapped the men's program permanently. The Austin Bold's season was suspended after one game, and the team never quite gelled when they came back.
So, let's look ahead. Here's a continuation of last year's "10 Dates in Austin FC's Foundation Year." By the end of 2019, AFC had hired Josh Wolff as head coach and Claudio Reyna as sporting director, and had broken ground on their McKalla Place stadium. This year they've filled in a lot of the details.
January: Seat selection begins for premium locations. Meanwhile, the construction cam shows the excavation for the sunken field just about completed and the first two multistory corner posts already up.
March 24: COVID! Work comes to a screeching halt as a city order halts all construction except for certain essential facilities. Work resumes April 2 after a state order overrules part of Austin's order, and officials settle on a new set of safety guidelines regarding masks, social distancing, and the like.
June 22: The St. David's Performance Center has begun development: AFC's official training facility, off Parmer Lane in Northeast Austin, will encompass four full-sized fields, 30,000 square feet of buildings (to include training facilities for the first team and Academy players), and the club headquarters.
July 3: Supporters' section season tickets went on sale this week, priced at $475 each, for about 20 games.
July 6: Rodney Redes became AFC's first-ever player signing. The promising 20-year-old Paraguayan winger has played out the rest of the year on loan at Club Guaraní in Paraguay – where he was joined six weeks later by countryman Cecilio Domínguez, who signed on as AFC's first-ever designated player.
July 17: Beer Hall! AFC released renderings and specs today: 18 taps, 20 large-screen TVs, and a video wall in a 400-capacity space overlooking the north endzone.
Sept. 18: Adrian Healey is announced as AFC's executive director of broadcast and content – and thus the English-language voice of the team's televised matches. With the deepest résumé of any soccer broadcaster in America, he's just one of a lot of great hires this year, up and down the org chart.
Oct. 25: 4ATX Foundation and St. David's HealthCare teamed up to give out 1,000 soccer balls at HopeFest Family Resource Fair – just one example of the work 4ATX did around town this year, including a new mini-pitch at Wooldridge Elementary, school supplies at Dobie and Burnet middle schools, partnerships with the Austin Parks Foundation and Upper Ninety, and more.
Nov. 9: The new grass pitch was a highlight of the media tour AFC hosted at their stadium, which remains on schedule for a March opening despite the pandemic handicap. See above, plus an online photo gallery for more images.
Nov. 18: The jersey reveal came in a citywide tour in the Verde Van, a refurbished 1983 Chevy Barth RV that's now the club's mobile retail shop.
Dec. 13-16: MLS trade day, MLS Expansion Draft, MLS free agency window. This is actually No. 11; call it one to grow on, as the club now has 11 players on their roster after a flurry of moves in the last three days. Five trade signings on Sunday, four more players picked up in Tuesday's draft, and at press time, we're waiting to hear about free agents (see more here).