Austin FC and rivals raise the preseason stakes with new Lone Star State shootout “La Copita”

Photo courtesy Austin FC

Preseason training just got a lot more interesting for Austin FC and its fans.

The club, along with FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, and USL side San Antonio FC, will participate in the inaugural La Copita, a brand-new preseason tournament that will kick off ahead of the 2021 regular season. From March 27-April 10, these teams will play a round-robin style tournament with the winner of the self-proclaimed “Best Little Tournament in Texas” to be decided by accumulated points.

It was probably no small feat to get this tourney off the ground, coordinating schedules with 3-4 other pro soccer organizations, each with their own training timetable to consider. Maybe COVID, in this era of restricted travel, helped bring La Copita to life. Whatever the reason, we’ll take it (even if it only survives for one year).

La Copita will be the first time Austin FC plays at the newly built St. David’s Performance Center. While the training facility is expected to have stands that can hold up to 1,000 spectators, no fans or media will be allowed into the event due to COVID restrictions. Don’t panic if you want to watch your beloved Verde though. Austin FC’s new app is where fans will be able to livestream most matches.

“Participation in La Copita is an important part of our preseason preparations,” commented Josh Wolff, Austin FC Head Coach. “We’re taking on our two soon-to-be MLS rivals and a strong USL side in San Antonio FC, giving our squad three opportunities to progress match fitness and technical preparation ahead of our first regular season match against LAFC on April 17th.”

La Copita Match Rules

  • Traditional 90-minute games (45-minute halves) and winners will receive three points for a victory.
  • Penalty kicks will be used to resolve draws (shootout winners will earn two points; the losing team will earn a point).
  • Goal difference and number of goals scored will serve as tiebreakers if clubs finish on the same number of points in the table.
  • Teams will be allowed unlimited substitutions, though players will not be allowed to re-enter after exiting a match.
  • Players participating in the tournament are not required to be on the club roster. 
  • A player may be replaced in the first half if he receives a red card. But the team will have to play down a man if a player receives a red card in the second half.
  • Player suspensions will not carry over to future La Copita matches.

Austin FC’s La Copita Tournament Schedule

Austin FC will play La Copita home matches at its brand new $45 million training facility in Northeast Austin. These home games will be closed to fans and media. Instead, the Houston and Dallas matches will be available to livestream for free.

April 33:00pmHouston DynamoSt. David’s Performance CenterAustin FC Mobile App
April 74:00pmFC DallasToyota StadiumAustin FC Mobile App
April 104:00pmSan Antonio FCSt. David’s Performance CenterClosed to Public

2021 La Copita Final Results

APRIL 3 [ATX v. HOU] – Austin FC got on the scoreboard when midfielder Pochettino gave a master class taking direct free kicks, giving ATXFC an early 1-0 lead. Defensive lapses caught up to the club early in the second half, wiping out a clean sheet and making it 2-1 HOU. A diving header by Redes leveled the score 2-2, but HOU pulled away with a 71-minute goal for a 3-2 win.

APRIL 7 [ATX v. DAL] – Austin FC shares the spoils in a 6 goal thriller, but ultimately loses out in penalties [4-2]. Head coach Josh Wolff decided to go with an entirely different Starting XI from the one that played against Houston Dynamo. Read all about it in our full match recap.

APRIL 10 [ATX v. SAFC] – Austin FC defeated USL’s San Antonio FC 5-1 in the third and final La Copita match at St. David’s Performance Center. Scoring started early with Cecilio Domínguez and Danny Hoesen both slotting it in goal within the first 15′ of the match. Domínguez finished with a brace to lead all ATXFC scorers. The final match was closed to the public and not livestreamed, to the dismay of many fans.

Austin FC scored a total of 10 goals in the inaugural edition of La Copita. Cecilio Domínguez noted a team-high three goals with Tomás Pochettino close behind with two to lead all goal scorers.

What changes would you make to La Copita for 2022? Leave a comment below.

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