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 August 4th 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.
El Tree 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 will be unveiled by fall 2022.
We expect the same no-nonsense approach to naming this squad that the front office used in choosing Austin FC for the senior team. So, don’t be surprised if the team is called Austin FC II (“Los Dos”). Only a few clubs diverge from the “2” moniker in MLS NEXT Pro – North Texas SC, Real Monarchs, and Tacoma Defiance.
Maybe Austin FC’s brain trust will get creative for their second team. If they need some help, we brainstormed some club names back in the day for the first team.
For consistency, we expect the badge for this new team to mimic the iconic intertwining oaks logo designed by Butler Bros. The designers could get creative by including a “2” in the Oaks crest.
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 (What’s the MLS equivalent?).
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.
Where will the team play
All signs point to 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 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
Do you plan to follow Austin FC’s second team?
Cover Photo Credit: Austin FC Academy Instagram
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