Kicking It with Austin FC

We caught up with 3 of our 26 favorite players on Austin’s first professional sports team

Article by Jennifer Birn

Photography by Lesson Medrano

Originally published in Austin Lifestyle

Weekends going to professional sporting events and rooting for the home team has long been a luxury we didn’t get to enjoy in Austin – but that’s changed with the arrival of Austin FC. The soccer team is the first pro sports team to call Austin home, and they were worth waiting for. After playing their first seven games on the road while the finishing touches were put on Q2 Stadium, this month they’re enjoying a string of home games and soaking in the love of the fans that comes with it. But note: while the stadium seats 20,000, the parking lot only fits 5,000, so strongly consider taking one of several shuttles or rideshare if you’re lucky enough to get to a sold out game!

Whether watching in-person, at a viewing party around town or at home on TV, the team’s energy is amazing – and even better if you feel a personal connection to the players. So, we caught up with three players and the head coach to help you get to know our new hometown heroes a bit better. 




*Has played professionally since he was 15 and scored the team’s first ever goal. He died his hair platinum again two days after the shoot.

What’s your favorite part about being on this team?

That it’s a new team, we’re all getting to know each other, we’re all starting from the beginning as a new player and everyone has to earn their spot. And the guys we have makes this team special.


Do you get nervous before games?

I do not get nervous before games. Is there times I overthink things? Yes. But nervous? No, I just go out there and make sure I’m having fun, make sure I’m loving the game and try to do everything possible to help my team win games.

Do you have any pre-game rituals?

I do. Number one is before the game I’m usually drinking mate. Then before the game I warm up in one pair of cleats but play the game in a different pair. 


What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not playing soccer?

Hanging out with my kids or doing something outdoors like fishing, on a kayak, just out near the water.

How many tattoos do you have?
More than 30. I started when I was young and I keep getting them.

Which was your first tattoo and which was your latest?

My first one was my last name on left arm and my latest is a spider web on my knee cap.


What does it symbolize?

I’m trying to make an animal tree on my leg. I have a tiger, a bear and two little cubs, which represent my two little kids. Then I have an elephant, which means protect and courage. 

Favorite Quote?

Dream. Believe. Achieve. I have it tattooed on my right hand because when I was little I said you have to dream to become what to do, but when you’re dreaming you have to Believe in yourself that you can get there and then Achieve. If you put them all together it’s what my life stands for, I always wanted to be a professional soccer player, I believed in myself, but at the end of the day I had to achieve it. And now I can add Blessed to it.




*Austin FC’s first ever Designated Player. Has previously played professionally for Paraguay, Mexico and Argentina.

What’s your favorite part about being on this team?

I am loving this new chapter in my career. My teammates and the coaching staff are sensational and have made me feel welcome since day one. The organization as a whole is exceptional, from the front office staff to the facilities, including St. David’s Performance Center and Q2 Stadium. As soon as I arrived in Austin, I knew I’d like it because the club is doing everything they can to ensure players and staff feel like they are part of a world-class organization. That is not easy to accomplish and Austin FC is certainly doing it!

Do you get nervous before games? Not really, I normally feel at ease because I know I am going to do what I enjoy the most, which is playing soccer. 

Do you have any pre-game rituals? I really don’t, I just try to be as ready and as focused as I can. 

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not on the field?  I love spending time with my family. We travel when we can, but as long as I am with my family, we can go for walks, travel, watch movies. 

What’s something you love in Austin? I really enjoy going to new places and feeling the vibe Austin offers. It’s a unique city and has something that makes you feel at home. I am looking forward to exploring it even more when we play more games at home. 



*Austin FC marks Stuver’s first starting role after seven seasons in MLS. He’s quickly become a fan favorite for his fantastic saves.

What’s your favorite part about being on this team? So far, my favorite part is the fans. They have been so welcoming and supportive.

Do you have any pre-game rituals? There’s one everyone keeps ragging on me for, our training and game socks have an R and an L on them to tell you what foot to wear them on and I always switch them.

Did you always want to be a goalie? It seems like the hardest position? No, I wasn’t always a goalkeeper. I was just the little brother, so I got thrown in the goal when my brother and his friends were playing. I played midfield in high school then gravitated towards goal-keeping and stuck with it. 


What do you do when you’re not on the field? I’m a homebody, so if we have days off I enjoy sitting on my couch with my wife and my dog and watch TV, or my outlet is video games, I’m a big child.

You and your wife are really involved with The Laundry Project to provide free laundry service for low-income people

Yeah, I fell in love with the idea because for so many people laundry is something you don’t have to think about, but through The Laundry Project we learned it was more of a luxury and that for so many people clean clothes isn’t something they have regularly but is something that can make a difference in their mentality, being in the work force, for a job interview.

Favorite Quote? Everything happens for a reason. It was my first tattoo. It was a saying my parents always said to me growing up whenever I was going through a tough time. You don’t always know why, but everything that happens to you and everything that you go through is meant to be and always makes you who you are now. 


Played professionally for 14 years before transitioning to coaching. He has three sons following in his footsteps.


What’s your favorite part about being a part of this team? I think being the coach, of course. It’s a great opportunity and a great responsibility to bring a club to a city and to build it from nothing. To see the progress being made, that’s what you enjoy being a coach or a teacher. So, seeing these guys go out and be willing to work and enjoy what they’re doing is the best part about being part of the team.

Are your feelings before a game different as a coach than a player? Yes, 100% different. As a player you’re thinking about your role withing the team, but you are thinking more about your own individual world. As a coach you’re looking at every facet of the game, where we are physically, mentally. What was the information you gave to each player prior to the game? Was it enough information? Was it too much information? You’re thinking about 30 or 40 people rather than just mainly yourself. 

What’s the biggest lesson you learned as a player you try to relay to your team? I think competing is a big part of what we do and as a player, for me that was always present. Whether you’re overcoming injuries or you’re out of form, there’s a responsibility to come to work every day and compete and to help this team continue to grow. We need guys to show up and have good intensity and a good understanding of what we’re doing, but the willingness to come and compete, to compete for your job, compete for your team, compete for your city, for me as a player that was always a driver.


You have a son who just went pro and a son in the academy. Do you give your sons the same advice as you give your team? No. We’re a pretty candid group. My wife and I think it’s important to be honest with the kids. I have an 18-year-old who plays in Atlanta, I have a 16-year-old who’s training with me, I have a 12-year-old who’s in our academy and two of them have seen me as a player and all of them as an assistant coach. We talk openly about the game. I think it’s important that we paint a real clear picture of what they’re taking on. They love the game, they love the energy and they also understand it needs to be fun. So do I. My kids also hear a lot of what I say to the team. (laughs) My work comes home with me. 

Have you seen Ted Lasso? I have not. I have heard a lot about it, but I haven’t seen it. 

Its theme is that morale is critical to a team’s success. Do you agree with that? Yeah, morale, chemistry and comradery are huge components in MLS, probably more than any league around the world. Americans are different in that way. We take you in whether you’re from our country or not, so we have a very diverse group and I think it’s really important. 

I heard you started Spanish lessons to better communicate with some of the players. Yes, during Covid I did an hour a morning three days a week, so I’ve learned a good bit. Not as much as I need to, but I have enough in the locker to be able to communicate. It’s helpful and our Spanish-speaking players, most of them are taking English classes so that we can bridge that communication aspect. Soccer is soccer, so when you start talking about the game it’s pretty easy to get information across to each other.

What do you love about being in Austin? I love the food. I’m a foodie so I love all the good food downtown and all of the places between there and The Domain. It’s just a cool city, the water, the hiking trails, there’s so much this city offers, it’s such an impressive city and we’ve really enjoyed getting settled in.

Favorite Quote? I don’t really have one, but time is something I always talk about with our players. It’s something that isn’t infinite and you can’t get back. Time moves quickly so you have to maximize that as a player, as a coach. In this career as a player, time runs out, so you make the most of every single day and every opportunity you have to play this game because in an instant it can be snatched away. It’s a fun job, but it’s not forever, so try to savor it and enjoy it. 

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