After a difficult inaugural season, Austin FC are competing at the right end of the table. Andy Loughnane, the MLS expansion team’s president, explains why the club’s launch has exceeded his expectations, discusses the potential to expand Q2 Stadium, and outlines why the franchise is “fortunate” to be based in the Texas capital.
With just ten regular season fixtures of the 2022 campaign to play, Austin FC are challenging at the right end of the table, just six points behind conference leaders LAFC and looking destined to secure a playoff berth in only their second season. Sebastián Driussi, the team’s Argentinian midfielder who will be among the MLS contingent taking on the best players from Liga MX in Wednesday’s All-Star Game at Allianz Field, is considered one of the favourites for league MVP and was recently joined at the club by compatriot Emiliano Rigoni.
Yet even when things weren’t going the team’s way on the pitch, there was a sense that the franchise was still trending in the right direction, with both fans and corporate partners buying into the direction that had been mapped out by the team’s ownership group, Two Oak Ventures, which is headed up by chairman Anthony Precourt and also includes Hollywood star Matthew McCourangrey/
Indeed, Austin had been readying itself for its moment for some time. MLS’s decision in January 2019 to award an expansion team to the Texas capital ended the city’s wait for its first major league sports team. The region is home to the Texas Longhorns college sports programme and a number of minor league outfits, but its soccer team would present the first opportunity for the city to be showcased on a national stage. The local community had already had to be patient, so hanging on a little longer for success was never likely to be an issue.