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Austin Bold FC 2021 Season Preview

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 04/21/21, 5:00PM EDT


With a retooled attack, Austin Bold FC is aiming for a bounce-back season after falling off the pace late in the campaign in 2020. | Photo courtesy FC Tulsa

2021 Outlook

Austin Bold FC was in the middle of the race for the postseason with three games to go, but came up short as it could only muster four points from its remaining outings while FC Tulsa swept to three consecutive victories to earn the upper hand and second place in Group D. Now the third-year club will be looking to rebound and has reloaded with some notable new arrivals in its bid for a return to the playoffs.

Leading the way is a substantial emphasis on attack with 2016 Championship Golden Boot-winner and MVP Sean Okoli arriving from Orange County SC. He’s joined by Stefano Pinho, whose record includes 38 goals in 79 appearances previously in the American lower divisions, and the Jamaican duo of Jason Johnson and Omar Gordon. The club has also looked to add experience defensively with Kofi Sarkodie returning to action in addition to the re-signing of Jermaine Taylor and Amobi Okugo.

That experience, which also includes influential midfielder Xavier Baez, is added to by some interesting young talent including New York City FC loanee Juan Torres and local product Beto Avila. If it all comes together as planned, Head Coach Marcelo Serrano’s side should be entertaining, and competitive.

Notable Arrivals

Sean Okoli, Forward: Former Championship Golden Boot-winner and MVP in 2016

Jason Johnson, Forward: Brings extensive Championship experience, most recently with Louisville

Kofi Sarkodie, Defender: After two-year layoff, former Dynamo defender returns to action

Stefano Pinho, Forward: Brazilian brings impressive scoring track record

Notable Departures

Diego Restrepo: Retired

Sean McFarlane: Signed with Miami FC

Billy Forbes: Signed with Miami FC

Two To Watch

Veteran defender Amobi Okugo has been a stable presence in the Bold FC lineup throughout the club's first two seasons in the Championship. | Photo courtesy Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC

Amobi Okugo, Defender

With 50 appearances across Bold FC’s first two seasons, Amobi Okugo has been one of the mainstays that has helped guide its success. The 30-year-old continued to be consistent in either the center of defense or midfield during the 2020 season, completing 82.8 percent of his passes overall and winning 71.4 percent of tackles, in addition to 26 interceptions in 16 games. Maintaining that level while helping raise the game of others around him should help keep Austin in the think of the postseason race once again. 

Sean Okoli, Forward

Returning from a stint overseas with Orange County last season, Sean Okoli put together a solid season with seven goals in 15 games, averaging a goal just over every other game (191 Mins/Goal). He’ll be hoping to improve on that scoring rate as he lands in Austin, and with the other attacking pieces around him there could be not only opportunities, but space to work in the final third for the powerful striker to work. 


Austin Bold FC Head Coach Marcelo Serrano is looking to lead his side back to the postseason in its third campaign in the USL Championship this season. | Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Marcelo Serrano (3rd Season)

After the initial success of 2019, Head Coach Marcelo Serrano’s side took a step back late in 2020, especially defensively where the side conceded 27 goals in 16 games to put a dent in their postseason hopes. Finding a better balance is going to be the key to the club’s third campaign, but if there’s someone who can implement that it’s Serrano, who brings extensive experience both in the professional ranks and in the youth national team game both in the United States and his native Brazil.  

Key Number

17.99 According to American Soccer Analysis, Austin Bold FC’s Expected Goals Against mark in 2020 was 17.99, which means that either the club was unlucky to concede 27 times, or just unreliable at the back. If Austin can get that number closer to where the stats say it should be this season, Bold FC could be looking at a return to the playoffs.

Possible Lineup

Projected Finish: Fifth, Mountain Division

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