After it was all said and done, 2021 exceeded our expectations in unimaginable ways. Those nights under the Verde lights of Q2 were electric in Austin’s inaugural campaign. We’ll forever be thankful that ATX’s first season of home games could be attended in person — and boy howdy were they popular; Austin FC was the only MLS club to sell out every single one of its home matches.
But there is no burying the truth that El Tree struggled mightily in year one. Josh Wolff’s lofty goals on the pitch came up agonizingly short time and time again, finishing with a dismal 9W-21L-4D record. No matter which XI started, opponent was faced (except Portland!), or shirt Josh wore, the club could not win consistently.
Best thing about a new year, though, is that we can dream big. Here are a five things we want to see in 2022:
Sebastian Driussi with a 15 goal/15 assist season
We want the Driussi full meal deal please. Playing a complete 34-game season. Munch! Starting nearly every match. Munch!
For perspective, 15 goals would slot him among the top ten MLS goals scorers of 2021. Last year, Seba had 5 goals and 5 assists in 16 games started. He didn’t start until the Aug. 14 match against RSL. In his next match on Aug. 18, he got the assist on a Ring goal against Vancouver. After witnessing flashes of greatness last year, we 100% believe the 25-year-old Argentine attacking midfielder can pull off a 15G & 15A stat line in MLS. Calling it now.
This will be his breakout year.
Full health for players in 2022
One of the most disappointing things about 2021 was the sheer number of players that suffered early season-ending injuries in the club’s inaugural run. With a MLS schedule that began in mid-April, four players were permanently in street clothes by May.
- Aaron Schoenfeld (left knee), 0 games played
- Ulises Segura (left knee), 0 games played
- Ben Sweat (left ACL), 2 games played
- Danny Hoesen (left hip), 6 games played
Only Segura and Hoesen return in 2022. We will never know if Wolff’s ideal XI—with all those players healthy—could have pulled off the vision he had for Austin in its first year.
We’re realistic that players will get knocks, but we want to see what the club can do at full health. Leading up to the 2022 kickoff, ATXFC is taking steps this offseason to address depth, with recent signings of MLS veterans Ethan Finlay and Maxi Urruti.
Finally, let’s hope the cool-weather February start for the 2022 season gives ATX players enough gas to survive those brutal summer months of play in Bat City.
Brad Stuver winning Goalkeeper of the Year
STUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU! Can we get this guy a trophy for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2022? Brad the brick wall came out of nowhere last season to become the cream of the crop among goalkeepers in major league soccer. Stuver led the league in saves with 136 in 2021. He was top 5 in other GK categories.
By our account, the only thing that kept him out of the mix was a lack of goalkeeper wins. Let’s hope more dubs come Austin’s way in 2022, leading to more votes from MLS club technical staff, media and current players for our beloved Brad.
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Austin FC makes the Playoffs
If this list was in any kind of order, then making the playoffs would rank at the top. As we’re all painfully aware, Austin finished second-to-last in the Western Conference last year. The club didn’t even sniff the playoff line in season one, finishing 17 points below the cutoff.
It doesn’t get any easier in 2022 with Nashville moving over from the East to form a 14-team division. Austin is making moves in the offseason, but those other 13 teams are also grinding on the roster building circuit, even hiring new coaches in some cases. It’s going to be a slog to be sure.
While we’re talking conference standings, we also want to see ALL Texas MLS teams finish somewhere north of the bottom three in the conference—for the pride of pro soccer in the Lone Star State.
More McConaughey moments at Q2
Finally, we want to see Matthew McConaughey, the club’s Minister of Culture, at more matches in 2022. Donning his eye-popping green suit and djembe drum at Austin FC’s home opener, McConaughey at Q2 Stadium bottled lightening and set the Verde trending globally. It was an amazing spectacle to witness in person.
Hell, he doesn’t even need to wear the green suit to matches in 2022…shirtless is fine.
What do you want to see from Austin FC in 2022?