MLS NEXT Pro announced today that Austin FC II defender Joe Hafferty and goalkeeper Damian Las have been voted to the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Best XI. Las was also voted as the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year. League awards are voted on by representatives from the sporting staff of each club, MLS NEXT Pro match commentators, and MLS NEXT Pro staff.
Las recorded a league-record 12 clean sheets this season to go with 21 clearances, 17 catches, and six (6) punches. He registered the league’s lowest goals conceded average (0.74) of goalkeepers to appear in at least 10 matches and ranked fourth among all goalkeepers with 76 saves. Las appeared in all but one match for the Verde & Black as the team conceded a league-low 23 goals and posted the best save percentage (76.8 percent) in the league.
During the 2023 season, Las was named MLS NEXT Pro Mid-Season Goalkeeper of the Year and won Goalkeeper of the Month a league-best three (3) times (March/April, June, August). He also participated in Goalie Wars at the 2023 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge pres. by AT&T 5G in Washington, D.C. on July 18.
Hafferty served as the Captain for ATXFC II this season and appeared in 27 matches with 25 starts. He tallied one (1) goal and one (1) assist and tied for the team lead with 36 tackles. Defensively, Hafferty recorded 54 clearances, 28 interceptions, and 12 blocks, and aided in 10 of the 12 clean sheets for ATXFC II.
“We are very proud of Joe and Damian for earning this well-deserved recognition,” said Austin FC II Head Coach Brett Uttley. “They both work hard in training every day and have had excellent seasons as a result.”
ATXFC II begins postseason play on Friday, September 29 against Sporting KC II at Rock Chalk Park at 7 p.m. CT. The first-round Western Conference matchup of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs will be available to watch on the Apple TV app to MLS Season Pass subscribers.