Austin FC added to their right flank on Monday, signing US Youth international Emanuel “Manny” Perez on loan for the 2021 season. Perez was previously with Scottish Premiership side Celtic and spent the 2020 season on loan in the USL Championship with North Carolina FC.
Perez was brought to Austin after Sporting Director Claudio Reyna had scouted him with youth national teams for years. The 22-year-old didn’t play in Scotland for Celtic so was hungry for playing time which he found in North Carolina.
He may well find more playing time in Austin, as the Club brought Perez in to provide more youth and depth to the squad. With the Austin FC Academy still some time away from producing Homegrown Players, Perez adds domestic youth to Josh Wolff’s squad -- which is key for any successful MLS club.
“It was a great opportunity to get a fairly proven commodity at the youth level,” Wolff told AustinFC.com on Tuesday. “He’s got an opportunity to perform here day-in and day-out at an MLS club and it just made sense. He’s got some variability as far as what positions he can play, which is something that always appeals to us. But he has an athleticism about him that’s nice, he covers ground very easily and he’s a technically good player.”
Wolff described Perez as a player that is possibly most comfortable as a wingback -- but with Austin playing a 4-3-3, he will most likely slot in as a right winger or right back. This is in line with previous stops in his career as he came up the youth ranks as a right back before playing on the wing with North Carolina last season.
He is developing as a professional, but the skills are in place for him to be a player that can take on opponents with his ability to get up and down the line. With Austin FC’s depth chart two deep at both right wing and right back, Perez may have to bide his time, but he’ll be competing every day to make an impression on the coaching staff.
Wolff added “playing time is difficult. We’re an expansion team so there’s a lot of players fighting and competing for minutes and for him having a good understanding of both positions (fullback and winger). Those are things that can help him get on the field. Either one of those would help his development. Success for him would be getting as many as games as possible and seeing the most amount of minutes as possible but it’s competitive. We’ve got a good group.”