MLS confirms Austin FC as 27th team, will begin play in 2021

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Former Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt has been given an expansion side, which will become the third team in Texas

Major League Soccer has announced Austin FC as its 27th team, with the club set to begin play in 2021.

The expansion team was confirmed at an event in Austin on Tuesday, with former Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt set to take charge of the Texas-based franchise. 

Precourt originally tried to move the Crew to Austin but after months of fan protests, he sold the team to new ownership who will keep the club in Ohio. 

Instead, Precourt will be at the helm of the league's 27th team, as expansion continues apace in the North American top division. 

FC Cincinnati will join the league in 2019 as its 24th franchise, followed by teams in Nashville and Miami that are expected to enter in 2020. 

Austin FC will be the first major professional sports franchise in the Texas capital. 

“We are extremely proud to be the first major professional sports league to become part of the fabric of this important and thriving American city," MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a league release. 

"In their support of a world-class soccer stadium that benefits the entire community, the leadership of the city of Austin has shown tremendous faith in our league and the sport of soccer in North America."

Groundbreaking for a new stadium in Austin will take place later this year and the venue is set to open with Austin FC's first home game in the spring of 2021.

“This is a historic day for Austin, as MLS becomes the first major league to plant roots in our beautiful city,” Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin said

“We believe professional soccer will bring a great and especially needed benefit to our city. In two years, this team and an elite soccer stadium will bring together all kinds of people from all over Austin in a way that we do not gather today."

Precourt was also pleased with the outcome and promised to build a contender in central Texas.  

“This is a very proud moment, and we are so happy to share it with the people of Austin, City leadership, the dedicated soccer fans of the region, and everyone who believed in our mission to bring Major League Soccer to this incredible community,” said Precourt.

“The greatest way we can show our gratitude is in our actions as leaders of Austin FC. Our intent is to build a team that will be a perennial contender for MLS Cup, to build a stadium at McKalla Place that rivals the best sporting venues in North America, and to cultivate a club culture that brings people together and always give back.”

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