Austin FC’s inaugural MLS campaign is over and now it’s time to talk offseason roster news and rumors as we look toward the fast-approaching 2022 MLS regular season kickoff on Feb. 26.
The Verde & Black built a full roster from the ground up in 2021, but in our eyes only a handful of positions are truly locked up for 2022—sorry, we don’t need a fifth goalkeeper—given the club’s lackluster finish in the 2021 MLS West Standings.
Josh Wolff has said in post-match press conferences that the club will most definitely be adding “personnel” this offseason. Unfortunately, he hasn’t whispered any names in our ear.
Claudio Reyna said publicly they’re targeting 3-5 new players.
In order to understand the landscape of potential new player signings, we also need to know the Verde & Black’s current roster decisions, including players who are staying, those who are departing, and others who receive renegotiated contracts.
Lucky for you, we’re tracking all the offseason news right here.
Austin FC Offseason Roster News
- Charlie Asensio, defender, signed to Supplemental roster slot on a guaranteed one-year deal on Feb. 23.
- Felipe Martins, midfielder, signed to Supplemental roster slot on a guaranteed one-year deal on Feb. 7.
- Damian Las, goalkeeper, signed and Homegrown rights acquired from Chicago Fire on Jan. 25.
- Ulises Segura, midfielder, receives offseason buyout and is waived by the club on Jan. 25.
- Ruben Gabrielsen, center back, signed on a guaranteed two-year deal on Jan. 24.
- Žan Kolmanič, Rodney Redes, and Jhohan Romaña have obtained Green Card to become permanent residents, freeing up three international slots the club announced Jan. 24.
- Five trialists invited to 2022 training camp: defender Graham Smith, midfielder/forward Milan Iloski, midfielder Dillon Powers, winger/forward Veljko Petkovic, and defender/midfielder Tony Rocha, announced by the club on Jan. 18.
- Colombian defensive midfielder Jhojan Valencia was signed on a three-year contract with an option for the 2025 season on Jan. 13.
- In the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, Austin FC selected three players: Generation adidas defender Kipp Keller (5th overall), defender Charlie Asensio (35th overall), and midfielder Michael Knapp (61st overall) on Jan. 11.
- Former designated player, Tomas Pochettino, officially inked a one-year loan deal with River Plate, according Austin FC on Jan. 10. The agreement includes an option to purchase.
- Alex Ring signs a new guaranteed contract through 2023, with options in 2024 and 2025, as of Jan. 3. The team captain also becomes a designated player; one of three slots available to the club.
- Diego Fagundez is spurning two interested clubs, one in Liga MX, to stay in Austin for 2022 in a tweet from his father (and agent) on Dec. 29.
- Maxi Urruti, center forward, signed as a free agent on a guaranteed two-year deal on Dec. 28.
- Ethan Finlay, midfielder, signed as a free agent on a guaranteed two-year deal on Dec. 20.
- Jared Stroud, midfielder, re-signed to a one-year guaranteed deal with two option years, as of Dec. 17.
- Expansion side Charlotte FC selected local boy McKinze Gaines, a promising forward, as their first draft pick on Dec. 14.
- Austin FC players re-signed for 2022: Freddy Kleemann, Will Pulisic, and 2021 team captain Alex Ring, as of Nov. 30.
- Austin FC players not re-signed for 2022 ($ Base salary): Kekuta Manneh ($81K), Aaron Schoenfeld ($210K), Brady Scott ($115K), Aedan Stanley ($63.5K), Jared Stroud ($81K), and Ben Sweat ($250K), as of Nov. 30.
- Austin FC loan options not exercised for 2022: Manny Perez and Sebastian Berhalter, as of Nov. 30.
- Matt Besler, center back, announced his retirement from professional soccer on Nov. 10. While he will be missed on the backline, his departure frees up $650,000 in base salary.
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2022 Player Transfer Rumors
Felipe Martins / Free Agent
Position: Central Midfield Age: 31 Transfer Fee: $500K (est.)
Nowadays Austin FC always seems to be in the market for a midfielder. Enter the latest rumor of former DC United player Felipe Martins, who is now on trial at Austin. If he’s signed, it would be an ironic twist of waiving one former DC United midfielder to pick up another from the Black and Red. The journeyman Brazilian has made MLS stops at Montreal, NY Red Bulls, and Vancouver. Martins was sidelined for 9 months in 2020 after tearing his ACL.
UPDATE: Austin FC signed Felipe to a one-year contract on Feb. 7.
Ruben Gabrielsen / Toulouse FC
Position: Center Back Age: 29 Transfer Fee: $685K (est.)
Normally, we’d scroll on by a rumor like this, but you mention center back and, well, it may have some legs. We all know Austin FC still needs a CB, after the gaping hole left from the retirement of Matt Besler. Norwegian 29-year-old Ruben Gabrielsen plays for Ligue 2 side Toulouse FC, but just finished a loan stint at FC Copenhagen. Gabrielsen has two caps for the Norwegian national team. By our count, Verdes have used their seven international slots and would have to trade (GAM $) or get a green card for one of their current international players.
UPDATE: Austin FC signed Ruben Gabrielsen to a two-year contract on Jan. 24.
Jhojan Valencia / Deportivo Cali
Position: Midfielder Age: 25 Transfer Fee: $1.0 mil. (est.)
Great…another midfielder, you may be sarcastically muttering to yourself. But if you’ve followed our roster updates (see above) then this deal for Jhojan Valencia could make sense if Pochettino is loaned to River Plate. Jhojan plays center mid for Colombia’s top-flight league champs Deportivo Cali, but is also comfortable at defensive mid or right back. He’s never played outside of his home country. It’s reported to be a three-year guaranteed deal, with a fourth year option.
UPDATE: Austin FC signed Jhojan Valencia to a three-year contract on Jan. 13.
Maximiliano Urruti / Houston Dynamo
Position: Striker Age: 30 Transfer Fee: $1.1 mil. (est.)
César’s saying there’s verbal agreement to sign Maxi the motor to a two-year deal. Makes sense for Austin FC to be honest. Gaines has departed to Charlotte and the Verde are desperate to bring in a MLS-ready striker to fill his shoes. Urruti is a free agent after Houston declined his option, but it’s still likely a hefty salary for a club like Austin FC. Will the club ever ink a center back, César? Where’s the rumors from Argentina about that?
UPDATE: Austin FC signed Maxi Urruti to a two-year contract on Dec. 28.
Leo Väisänen / IF Elfsborg
Position: Center Back Age: 24 Transfer Fee: $1.3 mil. (est.)
This rumor from Swedish sports podcaster Johan Dykhoff has all the makings of a certified Verde smoke signal. Age. Check. Position. Check. Transfer Fee. Check. Finnish. Check. Check. Like another notable player positioned in the spine of Austin FC, team captain Alex Ring, Leo is from Finland. No worries about communication between center back and center mid. In 2020, Väisänen joined IF Elfsborg, in Sweden’s top tier football league, from Dutch side FC Den Bosch. Last season he appeared in 23 of 30 games for 4th place Elfsborg and finished with three goals and one assist. Leo is also on the Finnish national team roster.
UPDATE: Elfsborg re-signed Leo Väisänen through 2024, according to an Instagram post from the club on Dec. 31.
Vincent Janssen / Monterrey
Position: Forward Age: 27 Transfer Fee: $20 mil. (est.)
Die rumor, die! We first tracked the VJ to Verde rumor way back in July 2020. Now the latest incarnation seems even more ludicrous knowing ATXFC’s current spending habits. With a $4.4M TransferMarkt valuation, Janssen’s fee is simply too rich for a club that is prioritizing improvements to the defense this offseason. Multiple reports have Austin in the mix, but Seattle seems more likely if the Dutch forward does in fact jump from Liga MX to MLS.