Moussa Djitté knew right away that he had made the right decision to come to Austin FC. Upon landing at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport shortly after 1:00am (CT) he was greeted by a small group of Austin supporters. Some had made banners. Some had brought gifts. They all made him feel welcomed.
“Seeing the supporters at the airport was an absolute pleasure. It was really, really cool,” Djitté said during a press conference on Thursday. “The gesture was so grand it moved me to tears, moving to America and seeing the welcome I got not just as a footballer but as Moussa Djitte.”
The 21-year-old striker had been waiting for that moment for quite awhile. After signing with Austin at the end of June from Ligue 2 side Grenoble, Djitté had to wait over a month to come to Austin due to a hold-up in the visa process.
It wasn’t until Aug. 10 that Djitté landed in Austin. Immediately, Djitté began individual workouts before joining the full Austin FC square at training a week later. Djitté made his debut with ATXFC over the weekend, subbing on in the 82nd minute. Austin head coach Josh Wolff said during his press conference this week that he expects the striker to continue making appearances off the bench in anticipation of a potential start sooner rather than later.
“The sooner we feel he’s in a good spot to start a game, we’ll certainly put him in there,” said Wolff. “But it’s getting him to understand both the offensive and defensive ideas and responsibilities that we have. It would be my fear to put someone out there where it’s not really clear to him his role in defending and pressing and when and where and how to do those things.”
The Senegalese forward certainly has a lot to catch up on both on and off the field. Prior to his Austin FC debut against FC Dallas, Djitté’s last competitive match was May 15. Off the field, he’s ready to learn more about his new home city, club and league.
He has grown close with Austin forward Kekuta Manneh as Manneh speaks Djitté’s native French and the two both hail from the same Mandinka tribe that crosses over from Djitté’s Senegal and Manneh’s The Gambia. Before his arrival, Djitté told AustinFC.com that he was also able to speak with LA Galaxy forward Kevin Cabral -- who was also playing in Ligue 2 last season -- about what to expect in MLS.
On the field, it’s clear he can add a goalscoring presence that the Verde & Black has been desperate for.
“I can add a lot in terms of the goalscoring ability of the team,” said Djitté. “It’s clear within the identity of the team that there’s a lot of ambition and all of the players are pushed by the supporters to try and realize that ambition.”