Austin FC finally finds its center back, Ruben Gabrielsen, for 2022

Austin FC signed Norwegian defender Ruben Gabrielsen to a two-year contract, with an option for the 2024 season, just as the club starts its second week of training camp.

The 29-year-old center back will occupy an international spot on the Verde and Black roster — made available when, in a surprise move, not one, not two, but three precious international slots came open today.

Žan Kolmanič, Rodney Redes, and Jhohan Romaña obtained Green Cards to become permanent residents.  

Gabrielsen spent more than a decade in the Norwegian league, splitting most of that time equally between Lillestrøm and Molde — where he won two league titles. He made 171 appearances across all competitions for Molde, including seven appearances in the UEFA Europa League.

In January 2020, the Norwegian defender joined Toulouse FC in the French first and second divisions, making 50 appearances for the club, before going to Danish Superliga side FC Copenhagen on loan in August 2021.

He returned to Les Violets in December 2021 upon expiration of his loan agreement, whereupon his contract with Toulouse was terminated in the new year.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but Ruben came to the club on a free transfer for a deal Transfermrkt values at $660K.

Austin FC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna keyed in on Gabrielsen’s soccer IQ and imposing stature in today’s press announcement.

“Ruben is a natural leader and has all the physical attributes of a top-level center back in Major League Soccer.”

Claudio Reyna
January 24, 2022

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What does Austin FC get in Ruben Gabrielsen?

As soon as Matt Besler retired, the big question heading into the offseason was “Who will Austin FC sign to replace him?”

The club then proceeded to ink deals with a winger (Ethan Finlay), a striker (Maxi Urruti), and a midfielder (Jhojan Valencia). No center back.

Training camp started. Still no word.

Today El Tree finally found their man, Ruben Gabrielsen.

It seems a heavy departure from 2021, when Wolff and Reyna intentionally stockpiled years of MLS experience down the defensive spine, with Matt Besler and Alex Ring.

Now it looks like Ring, Valencia, and Gabrielsen will form the nucleus of that defensive middle. Two of those players have zero MLS experience.

ATX knows all too well after its inaugural run how difficult it can be for international players to adapt to this league.

With that said, at 6-foot-one and 190 pounds Gabrielsen has the physical tools to be a legit force on the backline from the get-go. This, along with 14 years of European professional soccer experience, should make him an immediate starter for Austin FC when Feb. 26 rolls around.

“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to join Austin FC and play at Q2 Stadium.”

— Ruben Gabrielsen

Ruben Gabrielsen Player Bio

Full Name: Lunan Ruben Gabrielsen
HT: 6-1
DOB: March 10, 1992
Birthplace: Lena, Norway
Instagram: @galu1003

Ruben Gabrielsen Career Stats

Copenhagen (Loan)202170
TOTAL 30116

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