The Austin FC Academy teams took to the road for the first time in the 2020-21 season this past Saturday. All three squads faced their counterparts from the Houston Dynamo Academy, with the U15s winning their match 1-0, the U14s getting a 4-1 victory, and the U13s on the short end of a 2-0 scoreline. This follows an opening weekend where all three teams were victorious over San Antonio FC Academy teams.
Academy General Manager Tyson Wahl noted, “From a mentality standpoint, a confidence standpoint, I think it’s a really strong starting point to have the first two weekends go the way we have. And now, we’ll just work to improve each and every week.”
The Dynamo teams presented a solid early-season test for the Academy players. The Dynamo U15 squad, in particular, has talent throughout its roster in an established MLS Academy system. Wahl praised the U15 center backs for facing off gifted attacking players in a fast-paced game to contribute to the shutout.
Wahl also lauded the U15 attacking front three, noting, “That was the most dangerous I've ever seen them, just consistently creating chances against the Dynamo’s somewhat unconventional set up. Houston set up with a three-player backline, fronted by a six-player midfield designed to crowd the middle of the field.
As the 1-0 scoreline suggests, though, the U15 attacking players will need to focus on finishing in the coming weeks. “Scoring goals is really actually a difficult part of the game,” Wahl observed. “I think creating chances is a positive sign. We are working on our movement in the box, and filling up dangerous positions in the box, and then having the calm and the quality to finish the chances you do get.”
He added, “I think our players will get used to having these moments and recognizing what clear goal-scoring chances look like.”
The U14 team raced to an early 3-0 lead in the first 20 minutes of its match, scoring on three counter-attacks, and then matched a Dynamo goal in the second half to arrive at the final score. Still, the match provided some teaching opportunities for Wahl. He noted, midway through the first half, “We kind of let our foot off the gas pedal, not just energy and effort-wise, but our style of play is really about keeping the ball and moving it from side to side, and we got away from that.” Wahl was pleased to see, though, that the team responded after halftime and played more to the Academy philosophy.
Though the U13s lost their match, Wahl saw plenty of encouraging signs against an athletic Dynamo team that got both its goals in the first half. “They had a really good response. They hadn’t gone down in any preseason games, so to see them respond in the second half was really positive. They created chances, they played a bit better defensively—it was encouraging to see.”
This week, the squads will scrimmage against local club teams a level up from them, starting with the Academy U15s playing a club U16 team, before a Sunday trip back to Houston to face Dynamo Unidos, a Houston Dynamo partner club.