On the heels of an impressive run to the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup quarterfinals with the United States Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team in Argentina, Austin FC’s own Owen Wolff has returned to Austin. The 18-year-old midfielder played an integral role in the U.S.’s dynamic midfield, starting all five of the team’s matches in the tournament. Wolff contributed to three goals, recording two assists and scoring the opener in the U.S.’s 4-0 win against New Zealand in the Round of 16, slotting home a well-placed shot from outside the 18-yard box.
The news of the call-up came as a surprise to Wolff, as he found out about it through an e-mail his mother received while they were on a trip. It was a special moment for him and his family.
“It's always an honor being able to represent your country at any level,” Wolff said. “I was super happy and excited to be able to represent our country and go with the U-20s to play in the World Cup.”
The U.S.’s run to the quarterfinals saw the team win every game up until then, notably being the only side not to concede a single goal through the Round of 16. Wolff says although it was unfortunate to be eliminated in the quarterfinals to eventual champions Uruguay, he is proud of the U.S.’s performances and what the team accomplished at the U-20 World Cup.
“It shows that we were really good defensively, not letting up any goals until the quarterfinals; unfortunately, letting up two goals [in the quarterfinals], but it was a solid performance by our team,” Wolff said. “We were really happy to see that we didn't let up any goals in those first four games, but also scoring a decent amount against all teams until the quarterfinals.”
This U-20 World Cup marked Wolff’s first time competing at a major youth international tournament, and he relished the opportunity to compete amongst the best U-20 players on the world stage.
“The experience was amazing. Not every person gets to play in any World Cup so I feel like it was a really special moment for me, and I definitely felt like it was one of the most fun I've had as a professional footballer so far,” Wolff said. “It was unfortunate for us to lose in the quarters, but looking back at it now, it was a super fun experience and I was happy to be a part of it.”
The U-20 World Cup marked Wolff’s third call-up to the U.S. U-20 MYNT, previously joining the U.S. U-20 MYNT’s domestic training camp in January and international training camp in Spain in March. During the team’s time in Spain, Wolff scored a backheel goal in the U.S. U-20’s match against England U-20. He also scored for the U.S. U-19 MYNT at the Slovenia Nations Cup in 2021.
Since becoming Austin FC’s first-ever Homegrown signing in September 2021 at age 16, Wolff has made 36 appearances for the club, 18 of which he started, scoring one goal and recording four assists in his 1,581 minutes on the field. In 18 appearances across all competitions for club and country in 2023, Wolff has three goals and five assists.
Wolff says his time at Austin FC has been crucial to his development and provided him with a positive environment to further pursue his goals.
“I've learned a lot since being a part of this team for about a year and a half now,” Wolff said. “I've grown a lot as a person and a player and I feel like Austin, their staff, all the players, and everyone that’s part of the organization has helped me grow into the player and person I am today.”
Wolff returned to MLS action on June 10 as a substitute, and is back in the fold ahead of next week’s pair of crucial home Copa Tejas clashes on June 21 vs. FC Dallas and June 24 vs. Houston Dynamo FC.