The Road To The Western Conference Final: Looking Back on Austin FC II’s Inaugural Season So Far

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Throughout its inaugural season in MLS NEXT Pro, Austin FC II established its roots under Head Coach Brett Uttley. The team finished the regular season with 49 points and a record of 12 wins, 7 draws, and 9 losses, securing the No. 4 seed in the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference Playoffs.

Austin started the regular season strong, going unbeaten in their first eight matches. Their first defeat came to their eventual Western Conference Finals opponent, Colorado Rapids 2, a defeat which began a four-match losing streak. But from June to August, the team only lost two games, both of which happened to be their first and second-round playoff opponents, Sporting KC II and Tacoma Defiance. ATXFC II displayed some of their best performances during that span, featuring a couple of 4-0 victories at home over Timbers2 and LA Galaxy II.

While ATXFC II hit another rocky patch of form heading into the playoffs, the team was able to quickly restore momentum once the postseason began. Austin's path to the Western Conference Final included road victories at Rock Chalk Park against Sporting KC II and at Starfire Stadium against Tacoma Defiance. Both matches were scoreless at halftime, but Austin managed to score in the second half of each round to advance.

The Verde & Black won two Team of the Matchday awards (Matchday 4 and 13) while goalkeeper Damian Las raked in the awards, winning goalkeeper of the month three times, 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Mid-Season Goalkeeper of the Year, and 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Goalkeeper of the Year while being named to 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Best XI alongside teammate Joe Hafferty.

ATXFC II is now facing Colorado for the third time this season, with the first two matches taking place at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium and the third being held at DICK'S Sporting Goods Park. In their previous two away matches against Colorado, Austin lost the first match 1-0 and took a three-goal lead in the second match before Colorado equalized with three goals of their own in the second half.

During the regular season, the team only managed to win three games on the road, but they have won their first two playoff matches away from home. If they can match their number of road wins from the regular season, they will earn a spot in the MLS NEXT Pro Cup.