AUSTIN, TX – Austin FC’s inaugural MLS season is, to all intents and purposes, underway. With several warm-up games confirmed, players completing their first week of team training, and the initial few MLS fixtures released, it was left to Head Coach Josh Wolff and striker Danny Hoesen to round out an eventful week by delivering their first preseason press conference.
Danny Hoesen and Josh Wolff Prepare as MLS Season Draws Near
“There’s a lot of people who have put in a lot of work over the last two years to get us to this point. So, for it to finally come to fruition and be out on the field with the guys this week has been great.”
Following a busy few months in the marketplace, Wolff expressed his satisfaction at how the roster looks after putting the players through their paces on the practice field. “This a good group. They work hard and have a lot of personality and great character within the group. We just try to progress each day. It’s been good so far.”
Austin FC announced earlier in the week that the USL will be providing the opposition for their first couple of forays on to playing field.
Uneasy city bedfellows Austin Bold aren’t among the confirmed opposition yet, despite what appears to have been a tongue-in-cheek effort by the USL club to bring the two teams together. Austin FC will play Oklahoma City Energy FC in their first-ever match, followed by Louisville City FC. Both games will be behind closed doors at St. Edwards in Austin.
The team will play three further preseason matches in April, but details regarding opponents and dates are yet to be released. Wolff might still be assessing who could lead the team out versus the Energy:
“I think we’ve done a good job bringing in a lot of players that exude leadership quality on the field off the field,” suggested Wolff. “As a captain, you can be vocal, but you don’t always have to be the most vocal. When you play (as captain), there’s a level you compete at, there’s a level of focus. There’s also this ability to bind guys and bring people together.” There was undoubtedly some thought given to those attributes during recruitment. “When Claudio and I set out to build this roster, and certainly the composition of it, we knew we were getting those qualities in a number of people and that helps build out our identity.”
“I think we have a number of potential captains but what I love the most is we have leaders all over the field.” Wolff went on to name-check several potential candidates, including veteran forward Danny Hoesen.
Hoesen has already taken on responsibility in accepting the number nine jersey, an indication that he’s serious about being a leader in finding the back of the net. “A nine is a nine. The first thing you have to do is score goals and, I think, the way we want to play, it should give the nine a lot of opportunities throughout the season,” said Hoesen during the first official player introduction to the media.
Hoesen conceded that preseason is never the players’ favorite, with the focus understandably being on fitness. He believes that Austin has assembled a highly technical roster, though, and echoes Coach Wolff’s observations about the character of the group. “Because this is all new, you get to meet new people, you can set the standard. We can help the club to go where they want to be as something unique, and I don’t think a lot of players have this opportunity to start at a brand-new club.”
Austin FC also now knows the identity of their first-ever league opponents, as they prepare for a daunting away trip to one of the MLS Cup favorites LAFC, on April 17. Life on the road doesn’t get any easier with their next match at altitude, versus the Colorado Rapids on April 24th.
Austin will have to wait until June 19 for their home opener, when they welcome Danny Hoesen’s old team San Jose Earthquakes to The Tree House. As agonizing as that wait maybe, those few extra months might actually work in everyone’s favor. As the number of people vaccinated against COVID continues to rise and the number of cases decline, more Verde fans may be allowed into the stadium to cheer on their new team when top-tier soccer finally kicks-off in Austin.
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