Austin soccer is nearly back
Time to dust off your verde and black.
Driving the news: Austin FC's second season is around the corner — and hope springs eternal.
What they're saying: "We have more quality, more experience, certainly more depth, and in an instant you can see the competition out on the field is much, much different than last year," head coach Josh Wolff said last week.
Different is good: Last season was dismal on the field — Austin FC finished 12th out of 13 teams in the MLS' Western Conference.
Yes, but: The inaugural campaign was a rollicking success in the grandstand.
- Fans loved North Austin's new Q2 stadium.
- And they bought a lot of merchandise — jerseys belonging to three Austin FC players were among 25 top-sellers nationally.
What's new: Austin FC drafted the NCAA's top center back Kipp Keller; signed the Norwegian Ruben Gabrielsen, who has played defense professionally in France; and paid more than $1 million to Colombian champions Deportivo Cali for Jhojan Valencia, a ball-hawking sweeper.
Plus: The Pitch, marketed as a "food, fun, and fútbol" venue will open in February.
- Immediately adjacent to the artificial turf field at Austin FC's St. David's Performance Center training facility in North Austin, The Pitch will have places to meet up, watch the game and chow down on everything from Vietnamese chicken to Wagyu beef burgers.
What's next: Austin FC is scheduled to host Toronto FC in a friendly on Feb. 9. The MLS season officially kicks off in late February.
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