Austin FC: With grass and DPs in place, expansion team ready for 2021

Austin FC (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images)
Austin FC (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images) /

Austin FC represents the organization’s rapid and determined plans to hit the MLS

Expansion team Austin FC has installed the pitch in their new stadium, well ahead of their first MLS game in 2021. The Platinum TE Seashore Paspalum from Scottsdale, Az. is unique grass for MLS. The only other sight of the blades for soccer supporters will be in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The team chose this grass species for its hardiness and assurance it would thrive in the stadium shade. After growing for six months in Scottsdale, 15 refrigerated trucks moved it to the Austin stadium. Over three days, it was laid strip-by-strip into a 115×75-yard pitch.

At the same time, the organization has kept up the emphasis on growing a competitive team, well ahead of its 2021 debut. A key member of that mission is Designated Player Cecilio Dominguez. He’s now making a difference in Copa Libertadores.

Last Thursday, he helped Club Guarani from his home country Paraguay to a 4-1 Group B victory over Tigre from Argentina. Dominguez scored on a penalty kick, plus assisted on a goal in the 83rd minute. He played forward in that game but is expected to specialize as a midfielder in Austin.

Austin FC loaned both Dominguez and FC teammate Rodney Redes to Guarani. Like Dominguez, Redes is effective both at forward and midfield. Dominguez is the first Designated Player signed by Austin FC.

Everything now is moving smoothly for Austin soccer supporters. The organization has everything ticking like clockwork as the MLS soccer palace at Austin’s McKalla Place gets readied for opening day.

The bitter fight to get here has been forgotten. That fight started in 2018 after Austin City Council members slowly, somewhat reluctantly, approved plans to open the MLS franchise. The bitter part started when supporters of Columbus Crew realized the plan was to remove their franchise – the first MLS team – and move it to Austin.

A lawsuit invoking a 1996 Ohio law was invoked. This prevented a taxpayer-supported pro team moving from the state without a six-month notice offering the team to new owners who’d let it stay put. Team owner Precourt Sports Ventures counter-sued to get their way. But at some point observers convinced both sides to stop making this so hard. Just offer the team for sale. If no one buys, load the trucks and head to Texas.

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Precourt decided to see how the law worked. Someone bought the Crew and kept them in Columbus. When  MLS saw what happened, the league almost immediately granted Precourt and Austin a new MLS franchise. So far, everyone is a winner. With preparations for the 2021 opening coming soon, Austin FC and supporters plan to keep it that way.