In the span of seven days, Austin Bold FC announced the signing of six more players: former San Antonio FC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo, French defender Fabian Garcia, Chilean defender Jorge Troncoso, former Minnesota United FC defender Jermaine Taylor, former Los Angeles FC midfielder Calum Mallace and Brazilian striker André Lima. This is a rapid increase in the pace of singing announcements from the club.
The total roster number is now up to 20. Broken down, ABFC has the four forwards, eight midfielders, six defenders and two goalkeepers. It’s not yet known who will be in the starting XI, but the team has grown to a size that allows fans to speculate on formations and team chemistry.
The club has also held several open tryouts throughout the country. Despite large turnouts, there has not been a count on how many athletes, if any, have been signed during these events.
Additionally, the club has ramped up activity with pre-season underway, tickets are on sale and they are pushing forward on the construction of their new soccer-specific stadium in the Circut of the Americas.
Austin Bold FC will begin to play this year, with the first game being against the Las Vegas Lights on March 9 and the first home game against San Antonio FC March 30.
On the other side of the city, Austin FC has announced it will enter MLS in 2021. This gives Bold two seasons with the city to themselves to establish a following of loyal fans. Thanks to negative publicity by the way of Anthony Precourt’s venture to relocate the Columbus Crew, Austin FC has quickly become one of the most hated teams in the league. But all publicity is good publicity, and no one can deny Austin FC is being talked about more than Bold.
Many believe that other cities, such as Sacramento or St. Louis, should have been awarded MLS expansion before Austin. I wouldn’t venture to side one way or the other, but I think the disdain mostly comes as a carryover from the hatred and anger toward Precourt. That is to say, if Austin had simply been awarded the expansion without all the emotion of #SavetheCrew, people wouldn’t be as up-in-arms.
Currently, ABFC has two Austin natives signed to the team: Sonny Guadarrama of SAFC and Kris Tyrpak of Nashville SC. Pushing these two Austin-born players as a selling point might help attract local interest and support for the team.
At the end of the day, different league aside, I think it will boil down to whether or not Austin has the population and soccer fanbase to support two teams. With Los Angeles and New York City boasting populations of four million and eight million, respectively, one has to wonder if Austin’s number of just under a million will be enough.
Top photo courtesy of Isaiah J. Downing of Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.