Prepare to be spoiled with more ATX pro soccer, Verde fans.
Austin FC will field a new MLS NEXT Pro team in 2023. Sporting Director Claudio Reyna gave the reason behind launching a second professional men’s soccer team in the club’s press announcement.
“The team will provide valuable competitive opportunities, and will play a key role in bridging the gap between the Austin FC Academy and First Team.”
It completes the player pathway in the U.S. from MLS NEXT youth development to the professional ranks.
Austin FC is one of seven MLS clubs adding an MLS NEXT Pro team next season.
The Verdes also joins its MLS Lone Star rivals already in this professional development league:
- Houston Dynamo 2
- North Texas SC (an FC Dallas team)
What is MLS NEXT Pro
MLS NEXT Pro is in its inaugural season this year. The development league consists of a Western and Eastern conference with two divisions each. In 2023, 28 teams will compete in the league. All are MLS-affiliated except for independent club, Rochester New York FC.
On the U.S. professional soccer pyramid, MLS NEXT Pro is in the third division, with USL League 1 and NISA.
What is the name of the team
The official name and crest of the new team Austin FC II was unveiled in December 2022.
We expected the same no-nonsense approach to naming this squad that the front office used in choosing Austin FC for the first team. Only a few clubs diverge from the “2” moniker in MLS NEXT Pro – North Texas SC, Real Monarchs, and Tacoma Defiance.
For consistency, the badge for the new team mimics the iconic intertwining oaks logo designed by Butler Bros. The top of the crest reads ATXFCII in place of Austin on the original badge.
Who will play on the team
You’ll get to see up and coming talent on the verge of making it to the Big Show (or whatever the MLS equivalent is called).
The club’s roster is going to be a mix of promising Austin FC Academy players, professional players moved from Austin FC’s senior roster, and newly signed players.
An MLS NEXT Pro roster is comprised of up to 35 players, according to league guidelines. Twenty-four of these roster slots will be filled by professional players (International and Domestic) and 11 slots are reserved for amateur players – a max of five MLS NEXT youth academy players per team can be on the field during an official match.
Other highlights of MLS NEXT Pro roster rules:
- No salary cap and no salary limits on player compensation (i.e., no minimum salary or maximum salary).
- No age limits for players and clubs will be able to sign players directly to an MLS NEXT Pro agreement.
The players will be led by Brett Uttley – the first ever coach of ATXFCII. He most recently was an assistant coach at Inter Miami CF, rising through the ranks in various coaching roles at Quinnipiac University, Seattle Sounders, Rio Grande Valley FC, and USL Championship affiliate of Houston Dynamo.
Where will the team play
All signs point to playing at the Parmer Field stadium at St. David’s Performance Center. The club has invested heavily in the grounds there and it makes sense to link up where Austin FC Academy and the senior team conducts training.
It wouldn’t surprise us to see a couple rivalry or playoff matches at Q2 Stadium if the schedule allows it.
How to watch the games
All games will be streamed live on mlsnextpro.com. Beginning with the new Apple broadcasting deal in 2023, some MLS NEXT Pro matches will be shown on the Apple TV app.
Do you plan to follow Austin FC’s second team?
Cover Photo Credit: Austin FC Academy Instagram
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I suppose this means loaning out guys like Ascensio and Kleeman will be a thing of the past, as they can keep them within the organization beginning next season. This seems like a very positive thing, imo.
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