A weekend that was initially scheduled as a bye week became quite busy for the Austin FC Academy teams, with all three playing Sunday home matches against Houston-area academy Rise FC, and the U15s and U14s seeing Saturday non-league action against teams from the RGV FC Toros Academy.
Sunday’s matches, which got the Spring 2021 MLS NEXT season back on track following the historic winter storm, featured 3-1 and 4-0 wins for the U15 and U13 teams respectively, and a hard-fought 1-1 draw for the U14 team.
The U15s, who also faced a U17 RGV team on Saturday, got off to a slower start than they typically do, but still found the first goal en route to a halftime lead and an overall victory.
“It was a physical game, it was a physically competitive game with a little bit of edge and a lot of intensity and competitiveness,” Wahl noted, going on to add, “These kids are becoming stronger and more aggressive, so the games are getting a little bit more physical. It’s interesting to see the huge change from a year and a half ago when some of these kids started in our Academy.”
Though there was a bit of rust to work through from the winter storm-induced break, Wahl was still happy with what he saw from the team. “We were able to keep possession under pressure,” he observed, and he was happy to see both U15 goalkeepers in action during the weekend, as one is getting back into play after recovering from injury.
Wahl lauded the U14s, who drew against what he characterized as a very strong Rise FC U14 squad. “Our first half in particular was really, really strong, and that's great for that team, because they sometimes have a slow start,” he remarked. “We were dominant in possession in the first half, and controlled the game and possession, and created a lot of chances.”
Despite going up 1-0 at the half, Wahl noted that “we didn't score our chances at a high enough frequency, so we kind of kept them in the game.” That manifested into giving up a foul on the edge of the box late in the game, resulting in a penalty that the visitors converted to arrive at the final 1-1 scoreline.
“We're really proud of their performance, but at the end of the day, we also reminded them that
they're at that age where if they don't finish off a team by scoring more goals and creating more of a gap … these opponents are good enough to kind of counterpunch us and do damage to us as well.”
The U13s got off to a slower start than usual — which Wahl also attributed to the winter storm interrupting the season’s momentum — but they scored all their goals after halftime en route to a 4-0 win. “They didn’t have their usual game sharpness and game focus for the first 30 to 40 minutes, but then in the second half, they woke up and they scored their chances.”
Next week, the Academy teams will all travel to Houston to face their Houston Dynamo FC Academy counterparts, starting a busy March that also includes a date in Frisco with the FC Dallas Academy.