Josh Wolff has been one of the hottest names in MLS coaching circles for the last few years.
Austin FC was quick to pounce.
Flanked by Two Oak Ventures Chairman and CEO Anthony Precourt and club president Andy Loughnane, Wolff was unveiled as the first-ever head coach of Austin FC at the Continental Club on Tuesday morning.
“The opportunities were there with other clubs, but for me, it was about Austin. That was the only I wanted and that was the head coaching job I went after,” Wolff said. “I’m excited to be given this opportunity. Going forward, it’s about building a culture and we understand this will take time.”
Wolff began his coaching career with D.C. United as an assistant from 2012-13 before joining current U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter as an assistant with Columbus Crew SC in 2013. When Berhalter got the Men’s National Team job earlier this year, Wolff went with him.
Wolff will continue to serve as a full-time assistant with U.S. Soccer until the end of the year when he and his family will move to Austin on a permanent basis.
“Josh was in demand by other teams, and we decided to make our move,” Precourt said. We also want to get to building our product on the field. We’ve had a high opinion of Josh for a long time and he’s been at the top of our list. We got our guy today.”
Wolff’s playing career spans 14 years with stints with MLS teams Chicago Fire, Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) and D.C. United. He spent two years with 1860 Munich in the second division of the German Bundesliga.
He also made 52 appearances for the senior U.S. Men’s National Team, scoring nine goals and appearing in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup and winning a pair of Gold Cups in 2002 and 2005.
“It’s exciting to be part of a new franchise,” Wolff said. “Having come into the league with a new franchise in Chicago. I understood what that looked like as a player. As we better understand what our goals are in the short term, we’ll be better prepared to put a good team together in 2021.”
This isn’t the first time soccer has brought Wolff to Austin, as he spent the preseason with Columbus in Central Texas in 2015.
Precourt has had success with Wolff on staff before, with Crew SC making the playoffs in four of five seasons with him as an assistant coach under Berhalter, who spoke with Precourt about the hire and gave a glowing endorsement and blessing.
“There’s always a risk, you don’t know the person until you’ve actually worked together,” Precourt said. “We’ve de-risked the situation really well and we know what we’re getting. He’s a first-time head coach, and there’s some risk to that.”
Things continue to move forward for the team, and announcements should continue to flow in over the next few months.
Austin FC recently announced that season ticket deposits have eclipsed 35,000 and groundbreaking on a stadium at McKalla Place near the Domain is still on target. Precourt said Tuesday that the team is in the early stages of hiring a sporting director before they will begin filling out a roster.
“I’m excited by the responsibility of being a head coach,” Wolff said. “I’ve been a part of this league for 20 years and I’m excited of being something that can now help set up and design not just players but a system, and bring something to a city that has already shown an unbelievable amount of support.”