ATXFC II is unbeaten through its opening four MLS NEXT Pro matches, including three home wins
The 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season may only be three weeks old, but Austin FC II has already proven they can never be counted out. ATXFC II conceded the first goal in their first three matches this season, but fought back to earn points in all three contests. The group’s resilience has already been a characteristic that has defined this group in the early stages of the season.
“It’s a big focal point,” said Head Coach Brett Uttley. “One of our roots as a club is showing resiliency and we talk about it a lot.”
In its inaugural match at Parmer Field at St. David’s Performance Center, ATXFC II battled in-state rival Houston Dynamo 2. ATXFC II conceded the first goal just after the break but fought back to earn their first-ever win thanks to a brace by Valentin Noël.
“One thing that definitely stands out is our resiliency when something bad happens,” said Noël. “I feel like our approach is ‘okay, we conceded a goal, it happened, the game isn’t done’. We have this confidence that we can score anytime during the game.”
In ATXFC II’s first-ever road match, Sporting KC II found the back of the net in the 67th-minute, but the Verde & Black responded quickly, as Noël found Alfonso Ocampo-Chávez for the equalizer just five minutes later. ATXFC II surrendered the first goal on a penalty kick against Tacoma Defiance, but ferociously came back to score two goals in the final 10 minutes of match play.
“Us going down a goal in games and coming back to either tie or earn points is a real testament to the character of our team” said Uttley. “Early on to go through those ups and downs through the course of 90-minutes has helped us.”
The tables turned in the fourth match as ATXFC II struck first on Wednesday against in-state rival North Texas SC. In the eighth-minute, Valentin Noël dribbled through defenders and got fouled in the box and converted on the penalty kick to give the Verde & Black the 1-0 lead for the first time this season. Noël found another goal just four minutes later, capitalizing on a turnover by North Texas SC.
The French native has now notched a brace for the second time this season and is tied for the league-lead in goals with four.
“I’ve just been trying to hit very dangerous spaces throughout the course of the game, just trying to be in the right place at the right time,” said Noël. “I wouldn’t say those goals have been the prettiest goals I’ve ever scored but I don’t care, they’re worth the same. I’m happy they can help the team win games and have a strong start to the season.”
Noël and the Verde & Black look to win their fourth home match in as many tries on Sunday, April 16, facing St Louis City 2 at 6 p.m. at Parmer Field at St. David’s Performance Center. Fans can purchase tickets to watch the match at Parmer Field at St. David’s Performance Center, and enjoy food, drinks, and entertainment at The Pitch, immediately adjacent to the stadium. For those who can’t make it, the match will be available to watch on MLSNEXTPro.com.