AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC continued its offseason moves with two transfers this week, one of which sent a top defender back to his former club.

At his request, center back Ruben Gabrielsen was transferred to Lillestrøm SK in Norway after having a tremendous year anchoring the Austin FC defense. Gabrielsen, who was born in Norway, played for Lillestrøm from 2009-14 after he joined the team when he was 17 years old.

“Though it’s difficult to say goodbye to Austin FC, as a parent of a child who requires special care, returning to Lillestrøm and Norway is what’s best for me and my family at this time,” Gabrielsen said. “I’ll always have fantastic memories and friendships from the year I spent in Austin, and I want to thank the fanbase for their incredible support throughout the season. It’s a wonderful community, and a great club with a bright future.”

Gabrielsen helped Austin FC to one of the best turnarounds in Major League Soccer history, playing in 33 matches and all three of Verde’s MLS Cup playoff games. He scored twice, had two assists and was named to the league’s Team of the Week three times.

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“We want to thank Ruben for his tremendous contributions to Austin FC,” head coach Josh Wolff said. “After a great season in 2022, Ruben indicated that due to personal circumstances, returning to Norway was in the best interest of his family. He’s a top professional, we wish him well in the next step in his career, and he will always be welcomed with open arms in Austin.”

Verde sent midfielder and former designated player Tomas Pochettino to Brazilian side Fortaleza Esporte Clube. Pochettino was on loan to River Plate in Argentina last season after playing in 31 games for Austin FC in 2021. He came to Austin FC with high hopes after a history of scoring goals, but he scored just twice and had two assists for Verde.