Last Saturday was one of the moments that Austin soccer supporters have been dreaming of for years. There will be many more firsts this season, but watching Austin compete in Major League Soccer on FOX was a beauty to behold. A small but vocal group made it to LA for Austin FC’s first ever match, while most of us viewed from homes and watch parties here in Austin. The national TV ratings placed the match as the top-rated soccer broadcast of the week; viewer rankings topped all other sports on TV, outside of one featured MLB game.
The match itself was closer than the 2-0 final score would indicate. With Diego Rossi unavailable due to injury and Carlos Vela being subbed off in the first half due to miscommunication with Bob Bradley, Austin FC experienced long stretches of possession and often looked in complete control. If Alex Ring has a fan club, add us to the list. At halftime the two sides were knotted at zeros, but LAFC came out the more aggressive and Corey Baird found the back of the net in the 61st minute with a shot that caught Brad Stuver out of position after deflecting off a defender’s boot.
Josh Wolff subbed on fresh attacking players and kept his foot on the gas throughout the remainder of the match. Jon Gallagher provided an immediate spark and will be a player to watch this year. Redes had his moments, and we hope to see more minutes from Kekuta in the future. With both of Austin’s designated players ending the game on the bench, the game was effectively ended when Jose Cifuentes scored for LA in stoppage time.
While the consensus was that the team accounted for itself very well in their first outing, players felt they missed an opportunity.
"We don't have a mentality that this is the first year of our club. We have the mentality that we have experienced players that have won games and championships, and we played well. … We went toe-to-toe with #LAFC and feel disappointed to go away with no points." #AustinFC
— Chris Bils (@ChrisBils) April 18, 2021
As the impressive facility on Burnet Road nears completion, they’re starting to open it up to tours, and we got our first peek behind the curtain at McKalla Place. Simply put, it is outstanding. We have been asked to not discuss everything we saw, including parts of the venue that have not been announced or disclosed to the public. But the exceptional amount of detail work and intention in providing a positive fan experience is really impressive.
You won’t have a hard time finding a drink or local food. The concourses are wide and should provide good flow on game days and concerts as well. On June 19th we hope we’ll all know much more about McKalla in what is likely to be the most historic first of the season.
See additional pictures of our new home at the end of the post.
What a time to be alive and support soccer in Austin: it was announced this week that Texas will provide a majority of host sites for this summer’s CONCAF Gold Cup. All three MLS stadiums in the Lone Star State will be used, as well as both NFL venues and the historic Cotton Bowl. Whatever matches are played at Fair Park will add one more layer to an iconic venue; if you’ve never been to the Cotton Bowl, this a golden opportunity.
This also marks another first, with McKalla Place and Austin as one of the host sites. We don’t yet know what match-ups will be slated for the Texas venues, but do yourself a favor and enjoy some international competition.
This weekend the Oaks travel to “denVerde” along with an estimated 300-plus die-hard supporters for the second match of Austin FC’s seven-game road trip to start the season. Last week the Colorado Rapids drew 0-0 with FC Dallas. Saturday’s challenge should be another good measuring stick on how the club compares to the rest of its Western Conference foes.
Kick-off is at 8:00pm Central on Saturday. You can find the game locally on The CW Austin and enjoy the silky tones of Adrian Healey. If you cannot watch but want to listen, tune your radio to 97.5FM. It was announced this week that Lincoln Rose, a longtime voice of soccer in Austin, will be behind the radio mic.