Orlando City acquired Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Brandon Austin on a six-month loan for the upcoming season. The 22-year-old joins the Lions on a temporary basis for initially six months, with an option to extend his stay by six more months if Orlando decides to do so. Before diving into the analysis of the player, it is worth noting that the England native does not take up an international spot as he has dual citizenship. Acquiring the young shot stopper appears to be a sensible signing for the roster, but what does Austin bring to the team?
First and foremost, despite his young age, Austin has an abundance of experience at a youth level. While there is an obvious gulf in class between the youth and professional stages, the sheer amount of soccer Austin has played at such a young age is quite impressive.
Austin has experience with both Tottenham’s youth system and with Viborg FF in Denmark while on loan. Though he has not yet made an appearance with England, the fact that he has already been called up to a side packed with promising youngsters could be something to be excited about. The same goes for being a part of the young Americans as well. That international experience and captaining six of eight U-19 matches for Tottenham is quite an impressive achievement. Leading a youth squad for a club the size of Tottenham and earning call-ups at the youth level from both England and the United States is no easy feat, especially in such a competitive position.
At first glance, Austin seems to be a good signing for Orlando City in both style and function. The 6-foot-2 goalkeeper looks good with his feet and is very quick and agile both on and off his line.
In another game, Austin managed an incredible save against a penalty taken by Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour, who is now a part of the Blues’ first team.
Additionally, the Spurs defenders he played with seemed more than comfortable to play the ball back to him. That could mean they trust in his technical ability, which is crucial for how Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja expects his side to play. It will be interesting to see who prevails between Austin and Mason Stajduhar, who is still on the hunt for his first MLS appearance.
The two youngsters — 22-year-old Austin and 23-year-old Stajduhar — are expected to fight for second fiddle and each have quite considerable shoes to fill as Brian Rowe was a strong backup for the side last season. Andrew Pannenberg is expected to be the fourth choice for the time being but there may be an opportunity for him as well.
As for Austin, while some concerns may be raised about the lack of experience behind Pedro Gallese in the pecking order, I wouldn’t fret as he has a surprising amount of time in goal. While no definitive judgement can be made until Austin takes part in a match for the Lions, the 22-year-old is a good addition to the Lions. Austin could be a solid backup for Gallese going into the 2021 campaign if he leapfrogs Stajduhar.
Orlando has structured the deal well and the likelihood of being burned by the acquisition in any way is unlikely. Even if Austin struggles, he is only on loan for six months. If the young goalkeeper does well when called upon, an additional six months can be decided upon.
All in all, Austin is a quality addition to Orlando’s infrastructure that makes a good deal of sense. Rowe re-signing looks improbable now, and hopefully the English youngster or Stajduhar can soften the blow of losing the veteran. If Austin’s performance at the youth level is anything to go by, the Lions have a goalkeeper more than capable of providing competition and filling in when needed over the course of the next six months or longer.