AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC will face eight teams from Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference for the first time in their history in the 2022 season.
MLS revealed Austin FC’s opponents for the upcoming campaign when they released the schedule for the season at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
The team will open their second season with a home match against FC Cincinnati at Q2 Stadium at 5 p.m. on Feb 26. That fixture was previously announced by the club last month.
Austin FC will enter the new season without attacker McKinze Gaines – but the schedule revealed he will see his former teammates sooner than he might have anticipated.
The 23-year-old, who became the first Austinite to score for the club last season, was the first of five players selected by MLS newcomers Charlotte FC in the expansion draft on Tuesday, with Austin FC receiving $50,000 in allocation money as part of the selection.
Austin will play Charlotte on the road on June 30.
This year’s schedule is notably different from the 2021 schedule, when Austin only faced two Eastern Conference opponents.
Charlotte FC is one of eight teams that will play Austin for the first time ever in 2022.
FC Cincinnati, who finished the 2021 season last, with the fewest points among all MLS teams, comes to town for the curtain-raiser at Q2 Stadium on Feb. 26.
Inter Miami, Orlando City and the New York Red Bulls will also make their first trips to Q2 Stadium in 2022.
As well as the match in Charlotte, Austin FC will go on the road to face D.C. United, CF Montreal and Atlanta United.
Austin FC will once again do battle in the Western Conference. In 2022, the conference expands to 14 teams, with Nashville joining from the Eastern Conference.
Supporters will be keen to earn bragging rights over Texas rivals FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo – especially after Dallas won the Copa Tejas last season.
Austin will travel to Houston to face the Dynamo on April 30, then host them on July 12.
FC Dallas return to Q2 Stadium on June 25, ahead of the reverse fixture on July 16 – just four days after Austin’s match against Houston.
The opening gauntlet
ATXFC will hope to hit the ground running, with both of their opening matches at Q2 Stadium.
After the match against Cincinnati, they will face Inter Miami on Sunday, March 6 – a game that will be nationally televised on ESPN.
Their first road trip will be to Portland to face the Timbers, who lost this year’s MLS Cup final on penalties to New York City, on Saturday, March 12.
Austin returns to Q2 Stadium for their fourth match of the season, a home game against the Seattle Sounders.
If Austin FC can match their fans’ expectations on the field, the team will be playing relevant matches in September and October as they hunt for a spot in the postseason.
If that is the case, Austin will have to earn their playoff berth – because each of their final seven matches are against playoff teams from 2021.
Austin ends the season by crossing the border to play the Vancouver Whitecaps on Oct. 1, before ending the season back at Q2 Stadium against the Colorado Rapids on Oct. 9.
Full Austin FC schedule
Full schedule to follow. Check back for updates.