It’s preseason of Austin FC’s debut into MLS, and yesterday, at long last, we got to see the team in action. Actual home kits (though without names on the back), on an actual grass field (though without stands, let alone fans in them), against an actual top-level opponent (though it was just Houston, in a glorified friendly).
There are a lot of aspects of this first-ever “gameday” experience to consider, and we’re giving the organization the benefit of the doubt on some of these. They will never again be as inexperienced as they were yesterday.
Streaming via the smartphone app – Having the stream exclusively in the app surely boosted the number of app installs, but there are a few rough edges that need to be addressed. Some users got the stream going okay, while others couldn’t even see the video player. Some of us managed to cast the video to a TV (yay for AirPlay, when it works), but others squinted at their tiny iPhones for 90 minutes. On the other hand, once the stream was going, its quality and reliability held up well. Verdict: sideways thumb
Production quality – There’s a technique to working the camera for a soccer game, and it’s not based on keeping the ball centered in the picture at all times. The replay cuts, camera switches, and graphics had a definite less-than-professional feel, too. Hey, we knew it wasn’t ESPN, right? Except with Adrian Healey’s calm, professional call, it actually did sound like it. Verdict: sideways thumb
Houston’s goalscorers – All three of Houston’s goals came from former FC Dallas players: two from Fafà Picault and one from Maxi Urruti. As this new three-way Texas rivalry shapes up, that just seemed funny to us (well, to one of us, anyway). Verdict: lol
La Murga – This match was closed to fans, but some of them didn’t take “no” for an answer. They set up on a raised berm on the construction site next to St. David’s and kept the flags waving and made a joyful noise the whole game. We’ve been to full, real league games in this state that had fewer hardcore home fans than the number that showed up to that scrimmage yesterday. Verdict: two thumbs up
En las buenas y las malas. Desde el primero y hasta la muerte. 🎺 🥁 🏴 🔥 💨
Gracias por estos recuerdos y imagenes @arubiophotos 📸 pic.twitter.com/9KmXcrnxAU
— La Murga de Austin (@LaMurgaATX) April 4, 2021
The result – Turns out, they kept score at this game, and it also turns out that Houston scored three times but Austin only scored twice. We saw some ragged defense and some misfiring offense, along with a few beautiful moments, like Pochettino’s top-shelf free-kick goal.
SHEESH 💥 Can't hit a free kick much better than this
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) April 3, 2021
But, we did in fact “lose”. Allow us to claim that This Result Is Actually Good. Of course it would be amazing if ATXFC were great from the start, and stormed through the season, and won the treble our first year. But let’s face it, that’s the longest of shots for any team, let alone an expansion team in their first year of existence. There’s a whole lot of hype around this team – a lot of it deserved, and we’re buying it in bulk, too – but slightly reduced preseason expectations aren’t the end of the world.
What a day it was. We finally got to see our players, in our colors, playing our game on our turf. It wasn’t perfect, but things will inevitably get better, and we aren’t here for perfection, anyway.
Violet Crown Verdict: One Thumb Up