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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Soccer is Extra Than a Sport to Me ⋆

On October 16, 2017, soccer pundit Grant Wahl Tweeted: “Columbus Crew proprietor Anthony Precourt is about to maneuver group to Austin, Texas, in 2019 if downtown stadium can’t occur in Columbus. Story quickly.”

Grant Wahl on Austin Getting an MLS Team

That Tweet set off a firestorm on Twitter of offended Columbus soccer followers and excited Austin soccer followers. And I used to be there for each second of it sharing my enthusiasm in regards to the prospect of getting MLS in Austin.

It was good timing for me. I used to be in a foul place as I labored by means of the steps resulting in divorce after 21 years of marriage. The soccer controversy gave me one thing to carry onto and hope for, and dream about.

Along with the motion on Twitter, there have been a sequence of occasions, discussions, and Austin Metropolis Council conferences about soccer in Austin. I began assembly among the different individuals who have been pushing for MLS in Austin.

Austin soccer fans at Austin Beerworks

I spent a whole lot of time at Metropolis Corridor, talking and supporting others who have been behind the hassle. One of many conferences went to almost dawn, and it was value it (although my canines didn’t like that I used to be gone so lengthy).

Austin soccer fans with Anthony Precourt in June 2018

Shawn Collins speaking at City Hall in June 2018

It was a curler coaster of a time that bonded a bunch of us with assaults and doxxing from folks in Columbus, some Austin Metropolis Council members doing all that they might to tank the hassle, and a tough time discovering an acceptable location for a stadium.

In August 2018, there was lastly a Metropolis Council vote, and it went 7-4 in favor of a soccer stadium at McKalla Place… the present Q2 Stadium. Afterward, folks from the Austin soccer neighborhood, Metropolis Council members, and Austin FC staff get collectively to have a good time with beers at Austin soccer bar, Haymaker.

Celebrating at Haymaker after the City Council vote for soccer in Austin

Then on August 22, 2018, there was an occasion on the North Door to announce the Austin FC title and emblem, and we bought the primary hats and shirts with the group on them.

Announcing the Austin FC name and logo

My first Austin FC hat and shirt

However Austin nonetheless wanted an precise group to play within the permitted stadium. That was all labored out later in 2018 when it was determined the Columbus Crew would keep in Columbus and Austin would get a brand new group.

The official announcement of Austin FC becoming a member of MLS in 2021 passed off January 12, 2019 at The Hoffbrau and it was superb to have a good time with everybody about having an actual group begin taking part in in two years.

Austin FC is officially in MLS

The excited crowd celebrates the official news of Austin FC in MLS

Shawn Collins and Anthony Precourt

All through 2019, there have been month-to-month Meet and Greets with Austin FC executives, together with Sporting Director Claudio Reyna, Head Coach Josh Wolff, and Membership President Andy Loughnane.

Austin FC crew

With every occasion, we have been getting extra amped up. No one realized on March 4, 2020, at an Austin FC Q&A at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ that it might be the final time a whole lot of us would see one another for a very long time. Simply a few weeks later, the world shut down.

The Last Austin FC Meet and Greet before the world shut down

Building had began on Q2 Stadium, however I wasn’t positive if it might be paused and put the 2021 begin in jeopardy. I’d drive over there and take a look at the progress usually, since I couldn’t actually go anyplace else.

Q2 Stadium under construction

It was a aid when MLS pulled off a season in 2020, and as we moved on to 2021, it was introduced that Austin FC could be on the street to start out the season whereas the ending touches have been placed on the stadium.

My first recreation was an away match towards the Colorado Rapids, and it felt so good to see the first-ever Austin FC objective by Diego Fagundez and the primary win for the membership.

My first Austin FC game

Quickly after, I used to be capable of get a tour of Q2 Stadium as a season ticket holder, and I knew I’d discovered my new church.

My first visit to Q2 Stadium

Austin FC got here in second to final within the Western Convention of their first 12 months, and I used to be simply ecstatic that it was actual. We had a group.

The 2022 season was an entire lot higher on the sector, with a second-place end within the Western Convention.

And it was simply too poetic that on October 16, 2022 – 5 years to the day of the Grant Wahl Tweet, Austin FC received their first playoff recreation.

Every time I stroll into Q2 Stadium, I’m dwelling. It feels good to be there, and makes me pleased.

Soccer is an escape, a factor to share and expertise with the folks I really like, a spot the place I’m a part of one thing. It’s been a part of the material of who I’m since I used to be little and began taking part in.

And so many instances, I’d go together with my dad and brother to cheer on the Washington Diplomats, Crew America, and the Baltimore Blast.

Soccer is greater than a sport to me.

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