The Austin FC Academy teams went to Houston this past Saturday, and all three teams came away with wins. The U15s won 3-0, the U14s won 3-1, and the U13s posted a 2-1 victory.
For Austin FC Academy Director Tyson Wahl, the wins were particularly positive because of the quality of the opponent.
“Any time you’re playing another MLS Academy team, it’s going to be a good test,” Wahl said, noting that the Dynamo teams are well-coached and bring talented athletes to the field. There’s another interesting quirk to the Dynamo teams that make them a challenge to prepare for: They play with just three players in the back, operating in a 3-4-3 formation.
“They’re able to play out of the back really well in that formation,” he noted, giving emphasis to an aspect of play that Wahl also focuses on. While the Houston teams’ choice of formation provides challenges, Wahl said it also gives Austin FC teams an opening to play in wide areas — insights that show a growing familiarity with one of the Academy’s emerging rivals.
In fact, Wahl noted that the second half of the U15 game and first half of the U13 game produced some of the strongest moments he’s seen from the Austin FC Academy players thus far, demonstrating their development over the Academy’s relatively short history.
Both the U15s and U14s went on 3-0 runs in the second halves of their matches to help those teams arrive at the final winning scorelines. The matches started differently; Wahl noted that the U15s’ first half “was pretty evenly matched, with both teams having chances”, while he described the U14s’ first half as more sluggish, with the Dynamo U14s going up 1-0 at the half in that match.
And yet, both teams were able to score multiple goals in the second half to secure the victories. “That just shows how explosive these teams can be in creating opportunities and finishing their chances,” Wahl noted. “The U15s have been showing that in a lot of matches, and it was great to see the U14s do that as well.” While Wahl characterizes the U14 match as the closest of the three Saturday contests, the result reflects well on that squad’s ongoing development.
The U13s were matched up against a Dynamo U13 squad with a lot of talented players, but got out, holding a shutout lead nearly to the end, for what Wahl considered a strong overall performance.
“The Dynamo put us under a lot of pressure in the last 7 to 10 minutes of the game,” Wahl reflected, “and they ended up getting a goal out of it.” Still, though, the Austin FC players were able to limit the damage and get to the final whistle with the win.
Though the three teams recorded quality wins against an MLS opponent on the road, they’re preparing to try to accomplish that a second weekend in a row, with FC Dallas on the schedule this coming Saturday.
“We’re going to prepare for that like every other match,” Wahl noted. “The players will be naturally excited for this match, and the nerves will be there, we don’t want to do anything different, but it’ll be another good test for them, and they know that.”