Austin FC fans anxious to find out who the club picks up in the 2020 MLS Expansion Draft on December 15 got treated to five announcements of new players yesterday during the half-day trade window.
Austin FC acquired defenders Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Ben Sweat (Inter Miami CF), and Julio Cascante (Portland Timbers), as well as midfielder Ulises Segura (D.C. United) and forward Jon Gallagher (Atlanta United).
San Jose Earthquakes defender Nick Lima was acquired in a deal that sees Austin FC exchange $500,000 of General Allocation Money for the San Jose Homegrown fullback. Lima featured in 105 appearances with the Quakes across all competitions, registering seven goals and seven assists between the 2017-20 seasons.
Internationally, the Castro Valley, Calif., native has earned nine caps (six starts) and contributed three assists with the U.S. Men’s National Team, including appearances in Concacaf Gold Cup and Concacaf Nations League. A product of the Quakes Academy, Lima played four years of college soccer at the University of California, Berkeley.
Austin FC traded $100,000 in General Allocation Money to Inter Miami CF in exchange for the right to sign 29-year-old defender Ben Sweat. Sweat played in 23 matches (20 starts) and added two assists during the 2020 season with the MLS expansion side. Before joining Miami as the first overall pick in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft, Sweat spent three seasons anchoring New York City FC’s backline (2017-19), featuring in 81 matches (71 starts) across all competitions and scoring one goal while tallying nine assists.
Prior to New York City FC, the Palm Harbor, Fla. native, spent the 2015-16 seasons playing for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL, registering 34 caps (34 starts) across all competitions. In 2014, Sweat made seven starts for 3-USL Pro side and Columbus Crew SC affiliate Dayton Dutch Lions. The 6-foot-2 left-back was drafted by Columbus in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
Sweat has earned two U.S. Men’s National Team caps, appearing in friendlies against Colombia and Peru.
Austin FC also picked up Costa Rican central defender Julio Cascante during the Half-Day Trade Window. The native of Puerto Limón, Costa Rica, was acquired from Portland Timbers in exchange for $250,000 of General Allocation Money.
Cascante, 27, spent the last three seasons with the Timbers (2018-20), scoring two goals and adding two assists in 51 matches (41 starts) across all competitions, and was crowned Champion of the MLS is Back Tournament in 2020. Before joining MLS, Cascante played for Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa during the 2017-18 seasons and made 59 appearances (49 starts), including five appearances (three starts) in the Concacaf Champions League, while ranking among the team leaders in goals scored (9). Alongside Costa Rican and new Austin FC teammate Ulises Segura, the central defender helped Saprissa capture its 33rd Primera Division title, after winning the 2016/17 Torneo de Invierno.
Prior to joining Saprissa, Cascante spent three seasons (2013-16) with Costa Rican first-division Club C.F. Universidad de Costa Rica, making 42 appearances (37 starts). Cascante made his professional debut in 2011 with Primera Division side Orión FC. At the international level, he has earned one cap for the Costa Rica National Team, making a substitute appearance in a friendly against Nicaragua on Dec. 15, 2015. Cascante was also teammates with Segura in the Costa Rica U-22 squad that participated in the 2015 World Youth Festival where he made three appearances (three starts). He also made three appearances (three starts) with the Costa Rica U-23 team in the 2015 Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Austin FC also traded $175,000 of General Allocation Money for Atlanta United forward Jon Gallagher, who was part of the 2018 MLS Cup-winning roster during his tenure in Atlanta from 2018-20, making 16 regular-season appearances (11 starts) and scoring four goals. In 2019, Gallagher started eight matches and added one goal and one assist for Atlanta United 2 (USL) before being loaned to Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen FC, where he earned 31 caps and contributed one goal and three assists across all competitions in 2019-20. Gallagher played and started all six Europa League Qualifying matches for Aberdeen FC in 2019, where he produced three assists.
Atlanta United’s No. 14 pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, Gallagher played 29 matches for Atlanta United 2 (26 starts), leading the team in goals scored with six and adding five assists during the 2018 USL season. The Dundalk, Ireland native was drafted from Notre Dame after a decorated collegiate career, tallying 39 goals and 15 assists in 84 matches played, earning two All-ACC selections and a mention in the College Soccer News All-America Second Team and NSCAA All-South Region Second Team (2016).
Ulises Segura was acquired via trade with D.C. United in exchange for $150,000 of General Allocation Money. Segura spent the last three seasons (2018-20) with D.C. United, making 70 appearances across all competitions and contributing five goals and five assists. Prior to joining D.C. United, Segura, 27, helped Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa win two consecutive Torneo de Invierno Championships (2015-16, 2016-17) and spent one season with Club Sport Uruguay de Coronado (2014-15).
The Guadalupe, Costa Rica, native rose through the Deportivo Saprissa youth system, making his professional debut with “Los Morados” in 2014 and winning one Torneo de Verano title (2013-14). At the international level, Segura has made 10 appearances for the Costa Rica National Team, including two Concacaf Nation Leagues appearances and one Concacaf Gold Cup cap. Additionally, he made four appearances (two starts) for the Costa Rica U-22 squad in the 2015 World Youth Festival in Toulon, France, and two appearances in the 2015 Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The five players secured in the MLS Half-Day Trade Window join previously announced acquisitions Rodney Redes and Cecilio Domínguez, both of whom competed in CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores while on loan to Paraguayan side Club Guaraní.
It’s so exciting to see the roster filling out for the inaugural Austin FC season in 2021.