The Austin FC Academy teams continued a fall season filled with learning and growth on Saturday, as two squads registered decisive wins and one had a setback that will test their resilience down the stretch. All three teams hosted Dynamo Unidos counterparts on Saturday, with the U15s winning 4-1, the U13s winning 3-1, and the U-14s losing 3-1.
Academy Director Tyson Wahl notes all three matches provided solid learning opportunities for the teams, starting with the U15s. The U15 were productive in attack, scoring the first three goals of the match before swapping goals to arrive at the final scoreline. But Wahl still sees ways in which they could be even better.
“They played a strong game,” he observed. ”I felt like they were very dangerous and started the game with the right mental approach. They created goal scoring chances, in the way that we want to score those goals. We could still improve on having a little bit more patience in attack, and playing the ball from one side to finishing the attack on the other, to be a little bit more patient with the attack and let it develop.”
He’s seeing signs of the team understanding that philosophy and incorporating it into their play, particularly with getting fullbacks involved with the attack. While the U15s have the talent to score when they play more quickly and directly, Wahl sees patience as essential for creating higher-percentage scoring opportunities involving more of the team. At the same time, though, he noted, “I thought their energy was high and it was a fun game.”
Wahl’s keen to see how the U14s will bounce back from their 3-1 loss Saturday, which he describes as “a frustrating game for the players and even the staff,” but also as a “good learning experience” that could be valuable once they’re able to learn from it and look back on it.
“The players entered the game with a mindset that was probably overconfident, and I think we paid the price for being overconfident. I got the sense that the players thought that this would be an easy game, and it definitely wasn't, and we paid the price.” That, combined with the squad being “off,” with “not enough players playing at high levels,” contributed to the outcome — though Wahl’s eager to see them exhibit resilience in the coming weeks.
The U13s brought energy and control in their win; Wahl observed, “They’re really starting to learn our style. It’s fun to watch them progress.” He noted that their ability to maintain possession, and the ball control they exhibited, were key to their success.
“Their spacing on the field was great, too,” he added. “They're understanding concepts, they're starting to understand how to make the field really big, when and how to move in relation to the other teammates’ movement. So it was really, really positive.”
With Thanksgiving approaching, the Academy players will have a lighter-than-usual week before preparing for Saturday friendlies, and then will round out the fall season’s MLS Next play on Dec. 5 against Solar SC, a top Dallas-area academy.