In a happy return home on Saturday, the Austin FC Academy teams hosted Houston’s RISE Soccer Academy. The Academy squads got results at all three levels, with the U15s winning 5-0, the U14s battling to a 3-3 draw, and the U13s registering a 4-0 win.
For Academy Director Tyson Wahl, the results were encouraging, especially given RISE’s reputation as a soccer academy. “They have a big player pool,” he remarked. “They’re a strong club with a strong history, good players, and highly qualified coaches.”
Over the past week, in preparation for the RISE matches, Wahl noted that all three Academy teams worked on how to break lines of defense with solid, disciplined passing, and he saw much of that on display on an unseasonably hot October Saturday.
The U15s were especially good at applying those lessons in its match, which Wahl praised as a total team performance. The senior-most Academy team got two goals in the first ten minutes of the match, which certainly helped its cause. “That affected the RISE team’s confidence level,” Wahl remarked, “and from there, we were able to control the game.”
Wahl notes that the starters and subs who got opportunities to play — some playing in multiple positions through the course of the match — exhibited good energy and intensity throughout. That was particularly encouraging in light of the prior weekend’s U15 friendly loss against a U16 Lonestar Soccer Club squad. As Wahl recollected, “They gave us a really tough game. I think it was really positive because our kids responded really well. They pushed themselves during the week, they showed up with the right energy and mentality … so now they have, as one of the tools in their toolbox, how to recover from a loss. I think that's a positive learning experience for them.”
Even though Wahl noted the U14s didn’t start with the level of focus they typically have, struggling to build out of the back against an athletic opponent, they still captured the lead twice in a back-and-forth match. Wahl noted that the squad has been struggling with injuries in the early part of the season, but some players were able to return to play Saturday and looked solid, including one player who scored a brace as a sub to bring the team from down 2-1 to a 3-2 lead.
The U13s looked good in their win, with Wahl pointing out, “They made the field big, and that's something we focus on. We focus on making the field big so the passing lanes can open up, and I think they're learning that and demonstrating it really well.” As with the U15s, this was a game where more players were able to rotate in and get minutes.
This coming weekend, the U14s and U13s will head to Houston to take on their counterparts from Total Football Club, while the U15s will host the RGV Toros academy team.