The Austin FC Academy teams, facing off against the Houston Dynamo Academy teams they beat just two weeks ago in Houston, experienced mixed outcomes in their home rematches this past Saturday. The U15s dueled to a 1-1 draw, the U14s won 3-2, and the U13s were edged 1-0 in their match.
For Austin FC Academy Director Tyson Wahl, Saturday’s matches were a continuation of progress, showcasing how the Academy players have grown over the course of three weeks against their fellow MLS-affiliated academies in Texas.
“It's been such a positive three weeks, there's no way around that,” Wahl noted. “We knew this was going to be a challenging but exciting stretch of games, and it's a stretch of games that we circled [on the calendar].”
“Overall, our staff is really pleased with how these games have gone,” he added.
“I think for being such a young academy, we’ve actually made a huge statement in the past three weeks. I think we've earned respect, and we've made huge strides in such a short period against our Texas competition,” he observed. “We’re motivated to continue improving.”
The U15 team made a slower start that they typically do, and had a moment to digest when an Austin player had to exit the match in the first half with an injury that ended his match early. Then, the scoreless draw was only broken late in the contest with an exchange of penalty kick conversions. Despite it being a rollercoaster of a match, Wahl liked that the U15s were able to navigate it and come away with a result at the end of a tough three-game stretch.
“It was a pretty physical and kind of chippy and emotional game,” Wahl observed. “There was a lot of drama there in that game, probably too much drama. I don't think it was our best game played. But having said that, with taking the three weeks of consecutive matches into account, the team has made huge strides.”
Wahl also noted that the Dynamo team “was hyper-motivated to compete against us, which is a good sign,” adding that perhaps other teams are now circling Austin FC matches when they see them on the schedule.
Wahl assessed the U14 win as a great performance, marked by good ball movement and smart passing combinations. It also came about thanks to two goals scored from distance, one that put the team up 2-1, and the other providing the final margin of victory. “They were incredible, long shots, just spectacular goals,” Wahl remarked.
“I don't think they were super high percentage shots, but I don't think they had better passing options open,” he observed. “I'm happy that the players have the confidence to try to strike those balls. They hit them with confidence; they weren't hopeful shots. Both players made their decision to shoot, did it with technical quality and also confidence. You could tell by the way they both hit those shots that they were confident in their decisions, and that's half the battle, so we’re proud of them for that.”
Though the U13s lost, not a sentence that’s been written about the Austin FC Academy U13s recently, Wahl praised the team’s performance as its best to date, remarking, “Their passing and their movement off the ball, their understanding of the principles, was fantastic. We just didn't score goals.”
Wahl, noting that the Dynamo U13 squad is particularly strong, was encouraged greatly by the performance, adding, “Being able to play our style and move the ball against the Dynamo and FC Dallas is a really good sign for the future.”
The Academy teams will get a well-earned bye week next weekend before resuming play the first weekend of April against Total Football Club.