The 2024 season could be won or lost in the offseason for Austin FC.
Decisions made by Sporting Director Rodolfo Borrell on player personnel over the next few months could determine the Verde’s outcome before they even set foot on the pitch in 2024.
That means the roster-building calendar this offseason is incredibly important.
We’re not talking about an offseason situation like last year, thinking we just needed some minor roster tweaks after coming off the 2022 Western Conference Finals. Fans are expecting big things from the Chief Soccer Officer, who said in his Oct.10 press conference that he’s making major changes to the club’s player personnel operations to bring in higher-quality talent.
Let Rodo cook.
On Oct. 10, Major League Soccer released the full calendar of offseason roster-building events, highlighted by free agency opening (Dec. 13) and the MLS SuperDraft 2024 (Dec. 19).
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December 1 – Club Deadline to Exercise Options
Austin FC must submit to the league office which players will have their contract options exercised and which players will not have their options exercised.
The club will have to make a decision to exercise or decline contract options on these six veteran players by Dec. 1.
- Will Bruin
- Hector Jimenez
- Adam Lundkvist
- Alex Ring
- Memo Rodriguez
- Maxi Urruti
It’s a list that includes several high-earning and older players. Borrell’s decisions here could give us clues about his roster-building strategy going forward.
In addition to those six players, Ethan Finlay is out of contract with a $425K salary. Let the negotiations begin!
Austin announced its roster decisions on Nov. 7 last year. We expect similar timing this year.
December 11 – Trade Window Opens
Following a three-month roster freeze, Austin FC can begin adjusting their roster by conducting trades with other MLS teams.
This is when Austin could look to find affordable MLS veterans to fill holes. Bolstering the central defense has to be a priority during this window. The club has yet to successfully fill the void left by center back Ruben Gabrielsen.
The Verde must also find a reliable goal-scorer up top to work with Seba Driussi and Emi Rigoni. The focus should be to find a player that can complement, not duplicate, attackers on our current roster.
December 13 – Free Agency Opens
Austin FC may engage with players, other than their own, that are eligible for Free Agency. Free Agency-eligible players are out-of-contract and option-declined players who are at least 24 years old and who have completed a minimum of five service years.
Last year, ATX signed free agent forward Gyasi Zardes on a three-year guaranteed deal through the end of the 2025 season. He’s not going anywhere, folks.
The 2024 MLSPA free agency list will be updated on Dec. 13 prior to the window opening.
December 14 – Re-Entry Process Begins
Eligible players include those who are at least 22 years old, have a minimum of one service year, and are not eligible for Free Agency. The Re-Entry Process (Stage 1 on Dec. 14 and Stage 2 on Dec. 21) is conducted in reverse order of the 2023 season finish.
Austin FC traded up to the top spot to select midfielder Sofiane Djeffal in 2022. A full list of players eligible for the 2023 Re-Entry Process will be released on Dec. 13.
December 19 – MLS SuperDraft 2024
MLS SuperDraft 2024 will consist of three rounds of player selection. Austin FC should get a shot at a high draft pick since the draft order is set by taking the reverse order of the club standings at the end of the MLS season.
This is Austin’s chance to find another diamond in the rough like midfielder Dani Pereira, the No. 1 overall SuperDraft pick in 2021. In last year’s draft, Austin FC selected Generation adidas winger CJ Fodrey and midfielder Valentin Noel in the first round.
Odds and Ends
Finally, Austin will find out this winter if Paraguay’s Club Olimpia will pick up the purchase option of center back Jhohan Romaña, or if he’ll return to the club. Speaking of loans, young defender Brandan Craig heads back to Philly, but first he joins the USMNT U-23s for a round of friendlies. Forward Moussa Djitté will remain on loan to Turkish side Bandirmaspor until June 30, 2024.
Dani Pereira and Rodney Redes have contract expiration dates that remain a mystery to the public, as the timing has never been officially released by the club. We believe contracts for both players expire in December 2023. Neither player would show up on MLSPA free agency lists due to their age and years of MLS experience.