Does Austin’s soccer spotlight have enough room for two teams? The Texas Longhorns certainly think so.
On Thursday, members of UT’s soccer team expressed excitement about Austin getting a Major League Soccer franchise. A day earlier, the Austin City Council approved the gifting of public land to the ownership group of the Columbus Crew SC. That group has announced plans to build a stadium and move its franchise to Austin.
If that move happens — and some hurdles still need to be cleared — Austin would gain its first major-league franchise in any sport.
“From the club environment to high school to collegiate sports, I think Austin is a great soccer environment,” said senior midfielder Katie Glenn, who graduated from nearby Rouse High.
Texas head coach Angela Kelly’s college teammate at North Carolina, Rosalind Berhalter, is married to the coach of the Columbus Crew. In addition to a friend, Kelly could also gain a few fans if the Crew move to Austin.
Having soccer in the headlines would conceivably generate more interest in the sport and draw more fans to Myers Stadium this season. Kelly also pointed out that attendance numbers could receive a boost from this summer’s World Cup, which was a big draw on local TV sets.
“It may bring more excitement to the city about soccer,” junior forward Cyera Hintzen said. “I think it’s just awesome to have a MLS team. Being a female soccer player, just having that here, I think that’s awesome.”
Last year, UT’s average attendance of 998 fans ranked 25th in the NCAA. The Longhorns, though, will have to wait to see if they’ll receive a bump at the ticket booth. Before hosting Long Beach State on Aug. 30, Texas must play its first three games on the road.
The first game on UT’s schedule is this Friday’s trip to Rice. Texas is coming off a season in which it went 14-4-3 and reached the third round of the NCAA tournament. UT retains 96.6 percent of its scoring from last year, and goalkeeper Nicole Curry is coming off a sophomore season in which she posted a school-record 11 shutouts.
“Last season, people may not have known how much we can do and that we are a big-name school as well and that we can compete with anybody,” Hintzen said. “We’re ready to show that on the field.”
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