Austin FC Academy players got a thrill this weekend as several first-team players took in their matches as they faced off against El Paso Locomotive at St. David’s Performance Center.
The Academy had a weekend off from the MLS Next season as El Paso came in to take part in two days of friendly matches. It gave Austin an opportunity to play everyone on the roster and even some trialists. The weekend helped the club establish a connection with the USL Championship club that touts many highly-talented players, according to Academy GM Tyson Wahl.
With the first team recording the first MLS win in club history on Saturday, many first-team players came into St. David’s Performance Center on Sunday to either recuperate from the match vs. the Colorado Rapids or to get in some heavier training after not participating in the match. Several of the players made their way over to the Academy side of the complex to take in some of the youth team matches.
“For two years now we’ve been telling the Academy kids that they’re part of something bigger, that they’re connected to professionals and that [the first team] will be coming soon,” said Wahl on Monday. “So now, finally, not only are they seeing them on TV and they’re starting to see them at training here and there -- but now, after the first team got their first win, the Club got a really positive moment at St. David’s Performance Center when some of our first team players dropped by to watch our matches.”
Wahl noted that the moment wasn’t planned, but the Academy players got to exchange pleasantries with the players -- something that has been difficult to set up with COVID protocols in place.
“Our kids were starry-eyed as they got to see their heroes in real life for the first time.”
These kinds of moments allow the Academy players to fully grasp that they are at a professional club -- and the possibilities that come with it. There be more opportunities for these kinds of moments as the Club settles into their new home, so expect to hear more about these types of encounters.