Austin FC just bolstered its roster with some MLS Draft picks, and it will soon try to do so with some other players from within the league and abroad.
That is the plan anyway.
Expansion side Austin FC chose five players during Thursday’s 2021 MLS Draft, including No. 1 overall selection Daniel Pereira, to move one step closer to completing the team’s inaugural roster for this upcoming season. More reinforcements, some more seasoned ones, could be added soon, too.
“We are still working on some things,” said Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff on a conference call. “We have a couple of international players we are still trying to bring over, and that is ongoing. We have another player within the league that we will probably announce within the coming days.”
While Wolff did not reveal the identities of the players that Austin FC is in talks to bring over, he did say that the team is looking at “central players, attacking players” and “someone on the back line.” He added that defensive depth was something he was looking for as well.
Overall team depth was certainly addressed on Thursday, as Austin FC selected three players in the first round and two in the later rounds to boost its options for the 2021 campaign. The five players selected were Pereira with the first pick, Washington centerback Freddy Kleeman with the 11th, Duke left back Aedan Stanley with the 21st, Virginia forward Daniel Steedman with the 28th, and Ohio State goalkeeper Noah Lawrence with the 55th.
Most eyes were on Virginia Tech midfielder and Generation adidas class member Pereira, who was somewhat surprisingly chosen at No. 1 ahead of fellow top midfield prospect Philip Mayaka of Clemson.
“There is a way that we talk about how we want to play, certainly our structure and the qualities that we want the players to have, and I think Daniel checks a lot of those boxes,” said Wolff. “He is a young player that is very talented, plays in between lines very well, a very technical player, and we need this industrious midfielder that is calm and competent on the ball.
“He has got a very good first touch, has very good soccer IQ and soccer acumen, meaning that he can find passes, he connects the game very well, and it looks effortless at times. Those are things as you have more high-level players around him, you will start to see more qualities in him.”
Wolff stated that he knows it will take these former collegiate players as a whole some time to adapt to life in the professional game. That does not mean they will not earn minutes in 2021, of course, but there is also no guarantee they will see a whole lot of them either.
Regardless, Austin FC is pleased with how things played out on Thursday as the team continues to mold a roster for its inaugural campaign.
“We feel good about the core of our roster so far,” said Wolff, “and we know we still have a lot of work to do.”