The Austin FC Academy teams all took different paths to victory this past Saturday— with the U15s taking their longest road trip so far in the process, and the U14s and U13s notching wins at home.
The U15 squad went to the Rio Grande Valley to face the RGV FC Toros Academy, beating their USL Academy counterparts 2-1. It was a match in which Austin FC built a 2-0 halftime lead, conceded a goal late in the second half, but was able to close out the match without giving up an equalizer.
It was also a match marked by brisk winds; the U15s scored both their goals against the wind in the first half. The match also involved some of this season’s U14 players joining the U15 squad to provide a good mid-season test for them, and it included the additional X-factor of the long bus trip there.
As Austin FC Academy Director Tyson Wahl noted, “I think it's good for our kids to also get the experience of traveling quite a long distance and then getting out and doing foam rolling, activation and stretching, and then putting your shin guards on and playing a competitive game. So it's not the easiest circumstances to play under, but a good experience for our young players to learn how to do so.”
Wahl was pleased with the ball movement leading to both goals. He observed, “We use the width of the field and we completed multiple passes in each area, playing it from one side to the other in each of the thirds.” He also noted that both fullbacks were involved prominently in the goals, with the first coming off an assist from the right fullback position, and the second from a run down the left flank that the left fullback finished himself.
Though Wahl notes conceding the goal wasn’t ideal, assessing that the team was playing with about 80 percent of their quality in the second half, it was also encouraging to see their mentality in the final stages of the match, defending a one-goal lead. “We didn’t magnify the situation by crumbling at the end … we felt like we had control of the match.”
This was the teams’ second meeting of the fall season, the Austin FC U15s won by a 2-0 scoreline on Oct. 18 at home.
The U14s and U13s, meanwhile, hosted Houston’s Total Football Club in home matches under the tutelage of Austin FC Academy technical director Juan Delgado. Wahl noted that the Houston TFC teams provided competitive games with “some good athletes who physically gave us some challenges.”
The U14s won 3-0, with some players from the U13 roster joining the U14s in producing the positive scoreline. The U13s, meanwhile, gave up an initial goal in their match, but created two second-half goals to come away with the 2-1 win. That match, once again, highlighted the U13 players’ solid mentality, which has impressed Wahl throughout the season.
“A lot of youth teams really struggle with giving up a goal first,” Wahl pointed out. “And mentality is such an important part of the game for teams and individuals as well. Obviously, we don't want to concede first, but they have a strong mentality to deal with that. They just control their emotions well … to where giving up a goal isn’t deflating.”
This coming Saturday, all three teams will reunite for a rematch with Dynamo Unidos; the squads all registered wins against the Houston Dynamo-affiliated academy in Space City on Sept. 27.