AUSTIN (KXAN) – It’s no secret that a breakout 2022 has been a far cry from the product on the field this season for Austin FC. A major deal by the Verde and Black earlier in the week makes that step back even more clear.

Fan favorite Diego Fagúndez was dealt to LA Galaxy in exchange for Memo Rodríguez and up to $900,000 in General Allocation Money. Friday, Austin FC Sporting Director Rodolfo Borrell met with the media about the move.

“The principal thing of transferring Diego is not that he was underperforming,” Borrell said. “The main reason…[Galaxy] was ready to go with the salary that [Diego has]. And this allows us to liberate some salary cap here.”

Borrell came to Austin at the beginning of July from Manchester City and has made a major imprint on the club in the first transfer window. The Spaniard made it clear the team lacked any sort of financial flexibility and this move frees up space.

“Definitely much more than we had [before] this move,” Borrell said. “Because we had none. Literally we had none.”

Fagúndez earns $1,000,000 a year and was one the highest-paid players on Austin’s roster. Memo Rodríguez makes under $200,000.

The press conference was much more about the departure of Fagúndez and what it signifies rather than the arrival of Rodríguez. But Borrell was asked about the new Austin FC midfielder.

“We consider him a team player that is experienced in the league,” Borrell said. “This was not a straight replacement for Diego.”

After a 2022 season where Austin reached the MLS Cup Western Conference final, the Verde and Black have been knocked out promptly of the Concacaf Champions League, US Open Cup and most recently the Leagues Cup.

Now sitting at fifth place in the Western Conference after a strong surge heading into the break, Austin seemed to be playing some of their best soccer in league play. Borrell took a much more pragmatic approach to the club.

“In my opinion, I think the team overachieved last year,” said Borrell. “[Austin FC] is two and a half years old…We have to aim to win the MLS Cup. We are building toward being successful. But you have to understand it takes time.”

Austin FC returns to play Aug. 20 on the road at St. Louis SC.