With soccer fans throughout MLS and in Central Texas and beyond watching, Austin FC made their picks in the 2020 Expansion Draft on Tuesday.
When the dust settled, the Club brought in two experienced veteran players and two promising young players. The Club also traded the final player selected for an 11th place, first-round 2021 MLS SuperDraft presented by Adidas pick and $225,000 in General Allocation Money, in a move designed to help the Club progress toward fielding a competitive roster for the inaugural season.
Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff characterized Tuesday’s Expansion Draft as bringing a blend of qualities to the evolving roster.
“Balance is a big part of it,” he said, noting that he and Sporting Director Claudio Reyna have talked about the age of the team, and wanting to have “the right amount of experience and the right amount of youth.”
“We want players who are dynamic and have power and speed,” Wolff emphasized. “We want to play a certain way, and it's going to take some level of physicality, and it's also going to take a level of quality, calm and control to deal with situations. You get a little bit more of that with experienced players sometimes, but your young guys can help give you the power, the speed and the capacity to run.”
Danny Hoesen (Forward)
Danny Hoesen, a product of the legendary Ajax program, was selected first from the San Jose Earthquakes. A seasoned forward with four years of MLS experience and a decade of European pro experience preceding that, prior to joining MLS in 2017 via the Quakes, he made 72 appearances with FC Groningen between 2014 and 2017 in the Eredivisie, Netherland’s top league. He also featured in five UEFA Champions League matches during his time at Ajax from 2012 to 2014, with other stops on his European tour including Fulham in England and PAOK in Greece.
He made 104 regular-season appearances in four seasons at San Jose, getting 23 goals and 12 assists during his tenure there, including a 12-goal, 4-assist 2018 campaign. Though he’s coming off an injury that kept him sidelined toward the end of this past season, Reyna emphasized that Austin FC likes what he offers them.
“A couple of years ago, he scored many goals, and we feel that he's got that ability to again lead the line and score,” Reyna remarked. “We're going to have exciting wingers on our team who are going to provide him opportunities, and we just think is going to be a great addition to the team.”
Jared Stroud (Midfielder)
Jared Stroud, selected second from the New York Red Bulls, is a creative attacking midfielder who is just getting started in MLS. Stroud, 24, debuted for the Red Bulls this past season after making his mark for the Red Bulls’ USL Championship side NYRB II. He was a standout there in 2018 and 2019, becoming the first in franchise history to record 20 career goals and 20 career assists, and winning All-League first-team honors in 2019 after a 15-goal, 9-assist campaign.
“We thought he could add so much to our team,” Reyna said, indicating the Club was excited to see him on the list of available players. “He plays both right and left wing, he’s got a really good soccer IQ, movement, and energy. He’s a very fit athletic player who created so many opportunities in terms of his ability to cross both with his left and right foot. He’s someone who's hungry.”
Brady Scott (Goalkeeper)
Brady Scott, selected third from Nashville SC, is a promising young goalkeeper who has recently been developing in Germany’s Bundesliga. Scott, 21, distinguished himself as a U.S. youth national team goalkeeper, starting on the team that won the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship, recording three shutouts (including the final against Mexico). He was also a keeper on the U.S. U-20 World Cup team in 2019; the team’s run to the quarterfinals included wins over France and Nigeria in which he started.
Scott returned to the U.S. in 2020 after three years with Bundesliga side 1. FC Koln, playing for its reserve squad, and has most recently played on loan for the Sacramento Republic of the USL.
“I followed him closely for many years in the national teams,” Reyna noted. “I just really like everything about him. He’s good with his feet, he's good on process.” He also noted that even though goalkeepers typically take longer to develop than field players, the experience that Scott’s acquired so far has benefited him — calling the U-20 World Cup matches, in particular, “big games, big experiences, opportunities that he got under his belt.”
Joe Corona (Midfielder)
Joe Corona, selected fourth from the LA Galaxy, is an experienced, versatile midfielder who will bring game-tested mettle to the squad. Corona, 30, boasts international as well as MLS and Liga MX experience, with his 23 U.S. men’s national team appearances including Olympic qualifying, Concacaf Gold Cup and FIFA World Cup Qualifying matches. Corona started his pro career with Club Tijuana in 2010, making 195 appearances spanning a decade, with loan stops at three other Mexican clubs (including Club America).
Corona made 47 regular-season appearances with the LA Galaxy, 38 of those starts, split between the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
“We get a player with experience,” Wolff said of Corona. “He has experience with the national team, experience playing internationally, in Mexico, and obviously, he's familiar with our league. It’s a physical league.” Wolff added he expected that to translate into “giving us some calm, some pause, as a player who has quality experience which will also be a real plus in the locker room, and obviously in our community.”
Kamal Miller (Defender)
Kamal Miller, a Canadian international defender selected from Orlando City SC, was selected fifth and then traded to the Montreal Impact for $225,000 in General Allocation Money and a first-round draft pick (the 11th spot) in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft.
Though the Expansion Draft was an important day in Austin FC’s move toward fielding its first Starting XI in 2021, this was still just a facet of a process that will continue through the end of 2020 and into the New Year.
“We're still going to be very active and bringing in more players from the international market,” Reyna said. “Free agency opens up as well in a couple of days, and we're hopeful that we can add some more players. We feel good; with every day, we're making some steps and building the roster.”
“We have a lot of work to do ahead of us,” Wolff observed. “We'll continue to build, and it's going to be in a responsible way that again maintains that consistency to what we talked about: The balance of international and domestic players, and the balance of the youth and experience, because it's really important on the field and off the field.”