It’s a brand spanking new year Austin FC fans! Last year had soooo many FIRSTS and drop the mic moments, but what’s that…you want more in 2020? You’re in luck!
Hold on to your butts, ‘cause we predict big things to come for the VERDE in 2020. Cap City’s giddy as hell in this final run-up year to the 2021 MLS season. It’s getting real y’all!
Without further ado, here’s our new year’s predictions.
1. Season tickets will sell out in the inaugural year
We expect all those fans chanting “Take my money!” will see their wish come true and McKalla stadium will sell out in Austin FC’s first year in the league.
You may say “Duh!” after reading this ‘not so’ shocking prediction.
Considering Austin FC had a MLS record-breaking season ticket deposit haul in 2019, it seems obvi. But even 39,000+ ticket deposits in hand is no guarantee. There’s a significant difference between a $50 refundable deposit versus paying $1,000s for seat memberships. It’s a lot of cash for fans new to the league to cough up.
To get technical: our guess is that an actual season ticket sell-out will be 15K-16K seats (in a 20,500 capacity venue). Because at least 2K seats have to be set aside to meet the requirements of the lease agreement with the City of Austin, plus the club will want to set aside another 2K or more seats for match day sales and marketing campaigns.
In January 2020, premium season ticket sales started, which will be followed by general seat sales. We could know by the Summer if our prediction will come true.
2. Austin FC Adidas brand kit will hit stores
Fans will get their hands on Adidas Austin FC training gear in 2020. The big question: will it include an Austin FC kit release this year?
If you follow the release of Austin FC merch like we do, then you know Adidas hasn’t released much more than t-shirts. Other MLS partners like Fanatics (shirts), Ruffneck (scarves), and New Era (hats) all released new El Tree gear recently. Will Adidas be next?
The significance of Adidas, is that they provide all training and game gear for MLS clubs. That means when Adidas drops their merch, you’ll be seeing such items as training jerseys and pants.
We predict a game jersey will be revealed in late 2020 (in time for the holiday gift-giving season). But don’t get your hopes to high, if similar to other new MLS clubs, Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF are waiting to the last minute to reveal their game jerseys.
I think we got a hint at new Adidas gear when Austin FC pro FIFA player Hector Valenzuela teased swag he got for an eMLS tournament in January.
With the start of the 2020 MLS season around the corner, timing is perfect for Adidas to drop Austin FC brand gear in the next couple of months.
3. Austin FC will become affiliated with a USL club, but it won’t be Austin Bold
Austin FC is quickly making advances in homegrown player development by adding two new teams to Austin FC Academy in 2020. Another next step for developing players is affiliating with a club in the USL (United Soccer League)—either USL Championship or third-level USL League One (USL1).
While not every MLS team has an affiliation with a USL squad, most do. An obvious choice to an outsider would be Austin Bold FC, located just down the road at Circuit of the Americas in Elroy, TX. Given the Bold owner’s vicious political backstabbing of Austin FC, by my calculations there’s 0% chance of a partnership here.
Instead, Austin FC could look to other USL clubs located close to Austin, such as El Paso Locomotive FC or New Mexico United. Both are competitive teams in the Western Conference with a large, passionate fanbase. And neither currently has a MLS affiliation. I’ve seen both clubs play thanks to ESPN+ and we’d be lucky to be linked with either.
The smartest choice would be San Antonio FC, but they’re tied to NYCFC currently. Bringing all those San Antonio soccer fans into the Austin FC fold would be a boon for the club. Maybe Reyna can negotiate with his old club?
On the other hand, if Austin FC is looking to make a big splash in the media, they could go with new USL club San Diego Loyal SC (and their owner/coach/USMNT legend Landon Donovan).
I know very little about the intricacies of MLS-USL affiliate deals, so this kind of partnership is pure speculation.
4. Austin FC signs a high profile attacking DP, but not Chicharito
Austin FC may not land a household name like Javier Hernandez, but there’s no doubt they’ll target Liga MX and international Latin American stars to fill an attacking DP position.
Make no mistake, Austin FC’s CEO Anthony Precourt made his intentions known when the name Javier Hernandez rolled off his tongue last summer. Precourt went further to say “That’s the type of player we’ll target,” leaving the door open in the designated player (DP) department.
Acquiring the star Mexican striker would be an epic inaugural signing for the club. Proven by Austin FC’s hiring of Claudio Reyna, investment in a $45 mil training facility, and a $250 mil soccer specific stadium, I have no doubt the club has the desire and money to go after him.
Unfortunately, there’s heavy, heavy competition for Chicharito’s services in MLS alone. LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire are looking to replace their star DP, while Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC are in the same boat as Austin FC to get top notch talent from the get-go.
Just as Atlanta United raced to the top of MLS standings in their inaugural season with shrewd signings of key Latin American playmakers, I expect we’ll see the same approach from Austin FC this summer.
What do you think? Leave a comment below if you have any predictions for 2020.