Matt Hedges Joins Austin FC in Trade with Toronto FC
Austin FC has made a noteworthy acquisition, securing center back Matt Hedges through a trade with Toronto FC. The deal, announced on Wednesday, involves Toronto FC receiving up to $475,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM). This comprises $375,000 guaranteed for next year and an additional $100,000, which is conditional for 2025. In tandem with the trade, Matt Hedges has inked a new contract with Austin FC, committing him to the Verde & Black until the conclusion of the 2024 MLS season, with options for 2025-26.
Matt Hedges, a seasoned defender, is returning to Texas after spending the period between 2012 and 2022 at FC Dallas. Notably, he holds the record for the most appearances at FC Dallas and once captained Austin FC's rival club. Hedges expressed his enthusiasm for joining Austin FC, praising the organization's growth and potential for success.
At 33 years old, Hedges spent nearly eight months with Toronto FC after joining as a free agent in the previous December. However, he faced some injury-related limitations during his time with the Reds, playing 14 games, including 13 starts, this year.
Hedges' extensive MLS experience, with 18 goals and four assists in 324 regular-season games (309 starts) and his status as the 2016 MLS Defender of the Year and two-time MLS Best XI selection, is expected to bolster Austin FC's defense. The team's backline, led by Julio Cascante and featuring Brandan Craig on loan from the Philadelphia Union, is further strengthened by Hedges' arrival. Although Leo Väisänen, who was signed during the offseason, is currently sidelined with a knee injury, he remains part of the team's plans.
Austin FC's new sporting director, Rodolfo Borrell, expressed his delight at welcoming Hedges and acknowledged the player's consistent excellence as one of the league's best center backs over the past decade.
As for Toronto FC, they now rely on Sigurd Rosted, Aimé Mabika, and Shane O’Neill as their core center-back options after Hedges' departure. The club has seen significant changes in its roster since the post-Bob Bradley era, with new general manager Jason Hernandez making decisions while Terry Dunfield continues as interim coach.
Besides Hedges, other players have departed and arrived at Toronto FC, with the team currently positioned second-from-last in the Eastern Conference. The club is facing the risk of missing the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive year.
In contrast, Austin FC sits in a mid-table position and is striving to replicate their success in 2022, where they reached the Western Conference Final. With the addition of Matt Hedges, they hope to solidify their defense and make further strides in the league. Meanwhile, Toronto FC must adapt to their changed roster and work towards improving their standing in the Eastern Conference.