University of North Texas New Soccer & Track and Field Facility (Image credit: UNT Athletics Communications)

This is the second of what are planned to be monthly summaries of under-the-radar soccer stories from around Texas. The focus of this series will be on players, teams and leagues that don’t receive much coverage outside of their local communities. Stories from non-metropolitan areas of the state will also be a regular focus.

Two Houston Amateur Teams Advance to Finals of National Competitions

Horizon FC and ASC New Stars, amateur soccer teams in Houston, both advanced through regional playoffs to the finals of two prestigious National Cups. Unfortunately, neither was able to bring a championship back home. Horizon FC lost to Newtown Pride FC 4-0 in the National Amateur Cup and New Stars fell to Landsdowne Yonkers FC in the Werner Fricker Cup, the amateur Open Cup competition, 1-0. Texas teams have infrequently made it to the finals of these tournaments, but this is the first time both competitions featured teams from Texas in the same year, much less the from the same city.

Austin FC’s First Development Academy Team Begins Play

New MLS expansion side Austin FC will begin play in the 2021 season. with groundbreaking for their new stadium north of downtown scheduled for September 9th. Last month Josh Wolff, former MLS star and current US Men’s National Team assistant, was named as their first head coach.

A bit more under the radar was the announcement earlier this year that former Columbus Crew defender Tyson Wahl had been named General Manager of the Austin FC Academy. Wahl has begun to assemble a coaching staff and in May announced the first Academy team, a U14 side assembled from Central Texas youth clubs, that will compete in the 2020-21 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season starting this month. The first practice for this team was held at the beginning of August. Former professional player Junro Narita will be the inaugural coach for the youth team. More detail can be found in this mlssoccer.com article from Austin writer Phil West.

https://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2019/08/02/tyson-wahl-and-austin-fcs-fledgling-academy-future-starts-now

FC Dallas Academy Continues to Produce Results

Sticking with MLS Academy programs, the remarkable performance of the FC Dallas program must be recognized. 13 players from their Academy were called into various USMNT national camps last month. Despite being the second most populous state in the country, Texas has historically been significantly underrepresented on men’s U.S. Soccer National Teams. FC Dallas is changing that narrative quickly.

The FCD Academy U15 Boys team also traveled to Germany in August to play in the FC Bayern Adidas Campus Cup. After an opening loss to Bayern, the squad beat Juventus and Hamburg SV to advance to the semifinals where they defeated Dynamo Zagreb. This set up a return match against Bayern and this time FCD won on penalties, coming back from a two goal deficit in regulation. Dallas U15 forward Christopher Sanchez was named player of the tournament. Further details can be found in the attached story from Buzz Carrick of 3rd Degree, as well as video from the tournament final.

https://www.dallasnews.com/sports/fc-dallas/2019/08/18/fc-dallas-u15s-win-fc-bayern-adidas-campus-cup/

College Soccer Begins 2019 Season

83 Texas Universities and Junior Colleges with 138 total men’s and women’s teams opened their season in the last week of August. 18 of these teams begin the season ranked in United Soccer Coaches Preseason Top 25 rankings. 8 Texas college players, almost certainly a record, are on the Hermann Trophy Watch list this season. This award is presented by the Missouri Athletic Club to the best male and female soccer players at the end of the season. The University of North Texas also opened a new soccer stadium recently (photo above). Further details on the new UNT stadium and the upcoming season can be found in these links:

2019 Texas College Soccer Season Underway

https://dentonrc.com/sports/soccer-unt-to-open-new-era-in-home-venue/article_fcfff67a-089e-5e7b-b470-fa503abd9d91.html

Soccer Possibly Coming to Huntsville

To this point, Huntsville, the 83rd largest city in the state, has only had a soccer presence through the women’s team at Sam Houston State University. This may change in the near future as City Council is close to spending $8 million to renovate a local baseball stadium that has been empty since the local Double A team was sold and moved to another city five years ago. The presentation made to the Council directly referenced efforts to target potential amateur soccer teams from the NPSL and WPSL for the renovated facility. If this renovation is funded, the resulting stadium, based on renderings, will compare favorably to any current Texas stadium in these leagues. Details in this link:

https://www.waaytv.com/content/news/Nearby-business-owners-excited-for-new-plans-with-Joe-Davis-stadium-558044051.html

Texas Goal of the Month

Consider this remarkable goal from El Paso Locomotive’s Edson Partida

Below are two articles worth reading about soccer in El Paso and a Houston non-profit that uses soccer to reach the local refugee community:

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/columnists/dialcreech/article/Creech-How-a-soccer-program-is-changing-lives-14277840.php