AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC’s newly built defense will go toe-to-toe with one of MLS’ most dangerous attacking players during the club’s first ever game Saturday.
Nobody ever said it would be easy.
Austin’s first MLS game is on the road against LA FC, who are led by Carlos Vela, the former Mexico international and 2019 MLS MVP.
Since arriving in Los Angeles in 2018, Vela has averaged nearly a goal a game, scoring 52 goals in 66 games across three seasons.
That signals danger for an Austin FC defense that is, understandably, still building chemistry.
In three La Copita preseason games against MLS rivals FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo, and USL’s San Antonio FC, Austin conceded seven goals.
Though Vela is the star, LA is far from a one-man team.
With Vela sidelined with injury through much of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, LA’s Diego Rossi won the Golden Boot for top scorer, grabbing 14 goals in 19 games in a breakthrough campaign that saw him linked to a transfer to Europe.
Austin would also be wise to keep a close eye on midfielder Eduard Atuesta, who was named to the MLS Best XI in 2019, while new signing Kim Moon-Hwan, a South Korea international, adds steel to the defense.
For Austin FC fans, Saturday’s game at Banc of California Stadium marks the end of a long wait as they finally see their team take to the pitch for a competitive match – the first of a seven-game road trip before the opener at Q2 Stadium, against the San Jose Earthquakes, on June 19.
And while the beginning of a new era is more than enough to generate excitement, La Copita indicated that this Austin team will entertain on the pitch.
They scored 10 goals through the three matches, and though expansion franchises aren’t always successful in year one, Austin is built to compete.
All eyes will be on the club’s two designated players. Winger Cecilio Dominguez comes into the season in form, following three goals in La Copita, while LA will need to be wary of Tomas Pochettino’s threat from dead ball situations – just ask the Dynamo.
Alex Ring, acquired in the offseason from New York City, is an established leader in central midfield, USMNT international Nick Lima should catch the eye from right back, and number one SuperDraft selection Daniel Pereira should have a chance to start in the club’s first ever game.
The game will air on FOX, with kickoff at 5 p.m.
CW Austin TV home for regional coverage of Austin FC
The CW Austin, KNVA, will be the television home for Austin FC soccer for both the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The channel will air a majority of Austin FC’s regional telecasts for the next two years. Any remaining regional broadcasts not on The CW Austin will air on either KXAN or KBVO.
The first regional broadcast, an 8 p.m. CT kickoff against the Colorado Rapids on April 24, will be on one of KXAN’s channels (KXAN, The CW Austin or KBVO).
The inaugural Austin FC home game on June 19 will air on TUDN.