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Why I love Austin FC... sort of.
They’re the villains.
Nobody likes them.
And by nobody (except the actual fans of the club aka the city of Austin), I mean NOBODY likes Austin FC.
People have been tearing apart Austin FC. Labeling them as a fake club and already embarking them as the villains of Major League Soccer without even playing a single game.
And while everybody is seeming to go with the tide, to hate on Austin FC, I actually like them...
Here’s a backstory to get you to understand this situation a little better...
Columbus, Ohio - Anthony Precourt was a legend. He brought the Colombus Crew Soccer Club in 2012 and made them a legit team in the MLS. Alongside future USMNT head coach, Gregg Berhalter, Precourt and the Crew had something going.
Mapfre Stadium is (and soon enough that ‘is’ will turn to ‘was’ as they are working on a new ‘Crew Stadium’) a historic stadium. It’s seen it’s good days, and it has seen it’s bad. However, good or bad, there was one thing for certain, Anthony Precourt was there for the city.
Then, the date hit.
The date that would change the course of MLS history and make Precourt a villain.
It would make Precourt the Joker of the MLS.
It was all because of a tweet by Precourt implying he may just be moving the Crew to Austin.
For a team that was a part of the original ‘96 MLS, it was a shame.
Fans raged. They raged hard, and thus the #SaveTheCrew movement began.
In a blink of an eye, Precourt became the most hated man in all of Columbus.
In December of 2018, Precourt and his team had announced they will be building a $242 million stadium in Austin, and only a month later Columbus Crew was sold to another investment group.
With the help of his (Anthony Precourt) buddy, Matthew McConaughey, Austin FC won an expansion bid to put an MLS team in Austin. A city that was dying for professional sports with only two teams representing Texas’ capital, those being USL Championship side Austin Bold FC and the Austin Golgronis, a rugby team competing in Major League Rugby (MLR).
For Austin FC fans, this is great.
A new sense of fresh air, a first-tier major professional sports team.
And for every other Major League Soccer fan, this is war. Nobody likes Austin FC.
Precourt is hated, a villain in not many, but everybody’s eyes.
Columbus Crew was never more united when Precourt announced he was considering moving the team to Austin in 2018. The #SaveTheCrew movement was a trend that saw the MLS unite and support Columbus.
Now, with a new soccer-specific stadium plan in place and Austin FC set to take the field in 2022, I love Austin FC… sort of
See, MLS needs a villain. People need a reason to watch the league (and there’s a lot) and Austin FC is a perfect reason to watch.
First off, if you know me and my opinion on the MLS, you would know that I love myself a good soccer-specific stadium and Austin FC has just that.
Secondly, as I mentioned before, MLS needs a villain. MLS needs a team to hate. Some teams hate other teams (examples: LAFC and LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders, New York Red Bulls and NYCFC), but I feel there is no universal hate to a team. Lots of leagues have that one team, and those teams are usually the best. For instance, Manchester City in England and PSG in France. Those are two teams the whole league can agree that they all hate with a passion. However, the MLS doesn’t have that.
Austin FC will be that team that everybody hates, and it’s okay. Austin FC players, staff, and fans should embrace the hate. Use the hate to fuel them to an MLS Cup and get even more hate.
I love Austin FC for that. In fact, I hope they sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezman, or Luis Suarez (not all four, just one or maybe even two of them!) and win an MLS Cup. It would be crazy to see them get the big names everybody links with the LA Galaxy and Inter Miami CF and use that talent to propel them into MLS stardom.
So if you’re an Austin FC player, member of the staff, or a fan, I am with you and want to let you know you are hated. But not by me. I look forward to seeing the day you get hands on some silverware.
And for Columbus Crew players, staff, or fans reading this, I don’t hate you and hope you don’t hate me for this. You are in a new era Crew fans, and I respect the save #SaveTheCrew movement was something brilliant that showed just how loyal you are and nothing but the best with your new owners and new stadium coming soon.
Now that I have made peace, it’s time to wrap this blog up.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next one! I have lots coming on the way!
Founder, The Sports Court
https://communityimpact.com and https://www.prosoccerusa.com / (Rendering courtesy of Gensler, Austin FC)
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All Editorials written by Chris Dailey