ATXFCII RECAP: A Night of Firsts

Ask any of the diehards who showed up to The Pitch/Parmer Field last Friday night, and they’ll tell you the vibes were electric! It was just good clean fun. 

I had no idea what to expect, or how I would feel about having spent $12 to go have a “lesser” soccer experience, considering I had spent 2+ years going to Major League games.

As it turns out, minor league soccer on a balmy, breezy Friday evening in Austin is money well spent!  It didn’t have all the fancy bells and whistles that you get at Q2 Stadium, but it turns out that when all the extra stuff is stripped away all you really need is 11 guys desperately battling on the pitch to fight for our city’s colors.  

Thoughts on The Match

In fact, for those of us who are addicted enough to show up for both Friday and Saturday’s games, that contrast of young guys desperately trying to break into the professional game (and make a name for themselves) was a stark contrast with the first team’s lackluster performance on Saturday.

As the game played out, Austin FC II (or Verdos as some have nicknamed them) went down a goal to visiting Houston in the 49th minute.

This prompted Coach Brett Uttley to make a key substitution and bring out the extra fire power in the form of Austin FC’s 2023 MLS SuperDraft pick that they traded up for. 

Of course, I’m referring to first team loanee CJ Fodrey!  

Fodrey combined with David Rodriguez who was dangerous throughout the first half, and this created scoring chances that Valentin Noël was able to capitalize on with some precise finishing. This gave Noël the dual honors of having ATXFCII’s first goal and first brace in their history.  Don’t miss out on both of these goals and watch the clips below.

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The hunger and intensity on display from the Verdos forward line was exciting and refreshing, and they beg lots of questions from Coach Wolff about how long he will tolerate the first team’s lack of goal production. It was only one match, but if these young guns keep producing, the calls to give them their chance at Saturday glory will only grow louder.

Defensively, we got to see the immediate practical benefits of ATXII’s existence in our local soccer pyramid.  First teamers Charlie Ascencio, Damian Las, and Kip Keller were loaned down to help defend the goal. Keller put in a full shift that should help to rebuild his confidence in the wake of his disastrous opening week performance versus St. Louis — he looked solid on Friday.  

We have to also mention Damian Las who finally saw competition in goal after spending all of 2022 third in line behind Brad Stuver. Had it not been for Las’s world class save of a deflected acrobatic bicycle kick in the final minutes of the match, the Verde faithful wouldn’t have enjoyed any victories this weekend.

Other Observations

The Spartan accommodations of Parmer Field along with general admission seating make for some challenging and fun situations.

For example, one thing that The Green Room Staff didn’t mention in last week’s Austin FC II guide is that if your momma didn’t gift you much of a natural cushion, you’re going to want to bring a cushion with you because there’s no seats on the concrete bleachers.  

Also, the small seating area combined with general admission means that all of the personalities and cultures of Q2 are thrown into a mixer at Parmer field and they all feel like the players — and more importantly, the referee — can and should hear their voices. So prepare to be surrounded by punk rock vibes and laid back casual vibes all at the same time! 

The cool thing is that the club had the vision to situate this mini stadium next to the comforts of The Pitch. The MLS Season Pass live stream of the MLS Next Pro match was up on the big screen, and people who wanted to enjoy it, along with their tasty treats, in a much more reclined/relaxed mode had that option too.

The Real Magic

A little bit after I sat down I noticed a row of young teenage guys all sitting together just below me.  I didn’t think much of it until I noticed ATXFCII’s newest signing Micah Burton swagger over dishing out fist bumps and high fives before sitting down next to them.

Their smiles and wide-eyed excitement, as they took in the sights and sounds of the biggest crowd to ever show up to Parmer Field, showed me something.  I saw on their faces that this minor league match was making their dreams feel tangible: becoming a pro baller was within reach for them.  

I know that Monday’s practices at the ATXFC Academy will be a lot more intense knowing that Academy members and graduates — their current and former teammates — like Burton and Anthony De Anda are blazing the trail for them. 

Soon any of these young guys will be catapulted forward into the national spotlight thanks to the platform that ATXFCII provides them to develop their skills and shine.

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