After a holiday hiatus of three weeks, the Austin FC Academy U-15 team got back into action over the MLK Day weekend, registering three wins in a tournament in The Woodlands hosted by Houston Dynamo Unidos.
The team played two matches on Saturday, getting a 2-0 win over their Houston Dynamo FC counterparts, and then triumphed 2-1 over the RGV FC Toros Academy team. They then returned for a Monday match, blanking Rise Soccer Club 3-0.
“We weren't that rusty; there was just a little bit to shake out,” said Austin FC Academy Director Tyson Wahl about the U15 team’s return to play. “What we've seen from them since the break is that they were buzzing and they were happy to be back playing soccer, especially in the first couple of days. Their energy is high right now and it’s good to see them so excited to be back and playing.”
Wahl noted that because the players are still working up to full game fitness, he used the round-robin tournament format to rotate lineups and provide playing time for a number of squad members. Even though the tournament was more of an exhibition, designed as a college showcase, he was happy to see the team get three wins over teams they’ve grown familiar with in MLS NEXT.
“We were really dangerous on the counter attack and we were really threatening with our attacking,” Wahl noted, continuing a trait that the U15s developed over the Fall 2020 season. “Specifically, our front three were really dangerous. We created chances, which is important.”
He also noted some encouraging signs on the other side of the ball, observing, “I thought defensively, we were a little bit more aggressive and mature, which was good to see. I like their compactness, their ability to be aggressive and how they performed in duels, how they recognized threats and dangerous spaces. I thought that was also positive.”
He remarked on the consistency in goalkeeping, with the same keeper working all three matches and recording clean sheets in two of the three matches. Wahl characterized the single goal scored against his squad, an equalizer for RGV FC Toros that Austin FC then answered, as “spectacular.”
Wahl sees this month’s preparations, including the tournament, as a second preseason. Though the start date for the Spring 2021 MLS NEXT schedule isn’t yet official, indications are that play will start up again in early February and continue through June for all three levels, from U13 to U15.