AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC will face eight teams from Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference for the first time in their history in the 2022 season.

MLS revealed Austin FC’s opponents for the upcoming campaign when they released the schedule for the season at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The team will open their second season with a home match against FC Cincinnati at Q2 Stadium at 5 p.m. on Feb 26. That fixture was previously announced by the club last month.

Austin FC will enter the new season without attacker McKinze Gaines – but the schedule revealed he will see his former teammates sooner than he might have anticipated.

The 23-year-old, who became the first Austinite to score for the club last season, was the first of five players selected by MLS newcomers Charlotte FC in the expansion draft on Tuesday, with Austin FC receiving $50,000 in allocation money as part of the selection.

Austin will play Charlotte on the road on June 30.

New opponents

Austin FC midfielder Daniel Pereira, right, drives toward the goal against LA Galaxy midfielder Rayan Raveloson, left, during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

This year’s schedule is notably different from the 2021 schedule, when Austin only faced two Eastern Conference opponents.

Charlotte FC is one of eight teams that will play Austin for the first time ever in 2022.

FC Cincinnati, who finished the 2021 season last, with the fewest points among all MLS teams, comes to town for the curtain-raiser at Q2 Stadium on Feb. 26.

Inter Miami, Orlando City and the New York Red Bulls will also make their first trips to Q2 Stadium in 2022.

As well as the match in Charlotte, Austin FC will go on the road to face D.C. United, CF Montreal and Atlanta United.

Familiar foes

Austin FC fans celebrate a goal scored against FC Dallas during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Austin FC fans celebrate a goal scored against FC Dallas during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

Austin FC will once again do battle in the Western Conference. In 2022, the conference expands to 14 teams, with Nashville joining from the Eastern Conference.

Supporters will be keen to earn bragging rights over Texas rivals FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo – especially after Dallas won the Copa Tejas last season.

Austin will travel to Houston to face the Dynamo on April 30, then host them on July 12.

FC Dallas return to Q2 Stadium on June 25, ahead of the reverse fixture on July 16 – just four days after Austin’s match against Houston.

The opening gauntlet

Austin FC forward Sebastian Driussi, front, takes a shot on goal while defended by Los Angeles FC midfielder Daniel Crisostomo, back, during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Driussi was called off-sides on the play. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

ATXFC will hope to hit the ground running, with both of their opening matches at Q2 Stadium.

After the match against Cincinnati, they will face Inter Miami on Sunday, March 6 – a game that will be nationally televised on ESPN.

Their first road trip will be to Portland to face the Timbers, who lost this year’s MLS Cup final on penalties to New York City, on Saturday, March 12.

Austin returns to Q2 Stadium for their fourth match of the season, a home game against the Seattle Sounders.

Playoff run-in

If Austin FC can match their fans’ expectations on the field, the team will be playing relevant matches in September and October as they hunt for a spot in the postseason.

If that is the case, Austin will have to earn their playoff berth – because each of their final seven matches are against playoff teams from 2021.

Austin ends the season by crossing the border to play the Vancouver Whitecaps on Oct. 1, before ending the season back at Q2 Stadium against the Colorado Rapids on Oct. 9.

Full Austin FC schedule

*Home games in bold*

Sat. Feb. 26FC Cincinnati5 p.m.
Sun. March 6Inter Miami3 p.m.
Sat. March 12Portland Timbers9 p.m.
Sun. March 20Seattle Sounders3:30 p.m.
Sat. April 2San Jose Earthquakes6:30 p.m.
Sun. April 10Minnesota United6:30 p.m.
Sat. April 16D.C. United6:30 p.m.
Sat. April 23Vancouver Whitecaps7:30 p.m.
Sat. April 30Houston Dynamo12:30 p.m.
Sun. May 8LA Galaxy6 p.m.
Sat. May 14Real Salt Lake8:30 p.m.
Wed. May 18LA FC9:30 p.m.
Sun. May 22Orlando City7 p.m.
Sun. May 29LA GalaxyTBD
Sat. June 18CF Montreal6:30 p.m.
Sat. June 25FC Dallas8 p.m.
Wed. June 29Charlotte FC6 p.m.
Mon. July 4Colorado Rapids8 p.m.
Sat. July 9Atlanta United6 p.m.
Tue. July 12Houston Dynamo8 p.m.
Sat. July 16FC Dallas8 p.m.
Sun. July 24New York Red Bulls7 p.m.
Sat. July 30Sporting Kansas City7:30 p.m.
Sat. Aug. 6San Jose Earthquakes8 p.m.
Sat. Aug. 13Sporting Kansas City8 p.m.
Sat. Aug. 20Minnesota United7 p.m.
Fri. Aug. 26LA FC7 p.m.
Wed. Aug. 31Portland Timbers8 p.m.
Sat. Sep. 3Nashville SC7:30 p.m.
Sat. Sep. 10Seattle Sounders7 p.m.
Wed. Sep. 14Real Salt LakeTBD
Sat. Sep 17Nashville SC8 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 1Vancouver Whitecaps9 p.m.
Sun. Oct. 9Colorado Rapids4 p.m.