Austin FC Academy forms, gears in motion for homegrown MLS talent

Austin FC wasted no time getting a youth developmental academy established. Before a single first team player is signed, Austin FC Academy officially launched to compete in the 2019-20 season.

MLS academy programs are an incredible opportunity for selected youth players to have a clear pathway to professional soccer, while receiving elite coaching (and families pay no fees for registration, uniforms, or travel).

The club first started with a U14 boys team in 2019. Two other age groups (U13 and U15) were included for the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 season. Rosters for all three teams were announced in June 2020.

Major League Soccer clubs are required to operate developmental academy teams, but the number of youth teams can vary. A total of 95 clubs compete in the newly-formed MLS elite youth development platform

According to current MLS rules, clubs can sign their academy players directly to their first team and these player contracts do not count against their salary budget. Each MLS club has a defined territory from where it can draw homegrown talent, usually 75-100 miles from the club’s stadium. 

Tyson Wahl was named Austin FC Academy’s general manager in January, to oversee youth operations. Wahl played in the MLS for 11 years; most recently, he was the youth development director for the Austin Texans.

“Our goal is to build the most successful academy program in the United States, and our long-term vision is to make Austin proud by eventually adding countless Austinites to our MLS roster as “homegrown players.” – Tyson Wahl

Austin FC Academy trains and plays matches at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School until it moves to Austin FC’s St. David’s Performance Center in 2021.

For some history, in May 2019 the club announced its inaugural roster for the U14 squad.

In another historic moment, September 7, 2019 was the first time an Austin FC team of any level played a competitive match. (Austin FC Academy’s U14 squad lost to San Antonio FC U14 in a 4-1 score.)

Then Austin FC Academy formed U13 and U14 clubs (OG U14 moved to U15) in June 2020, adding 40+ new players to the club. Players had to start the Academy by training virtually for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In July 2020, the Academy made numerous significant hires, including U14 coach (Angel Rivillo), U15 coach (Javier Cano), Strength and Conditioning coach (Alex Olivares), plus an Academy scout, and video analyst.

In November 2020, the club gained a foothold in San Antonio through a non-exclusive deal with Classics Elite Soccer Academy. Austin FC Academy will conduct a Center of Excellence training program for SA youth players at Classics Elite facilities. In a city previously untapped by MLS, Austin FC moved quickly to expand its territory in a new MLS Next world.

Local Austin area boys can apply online for the Academy.


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