Sports

“VerDos” Brings the Energy at Fraction of the Price

It’s well worth a trip to see Austin FC II in action


Parmer Field plays host to Austin FC II home matches (photo by Eric Goodman)

Austin FC matches at Q2 Stadium are many things. Entertaining? Sure. Loud? You bet. Affordable? Eh ... not exactly. For the tens of thousands of El Tree supporters not fortunate enough to call themselves season ticketholders, the get-in price alone generally starts around $70 per ticket and frequently rises well into triple digits.

For most fans, that math ain't pretty, limiting the amount of Q2 outings to just a handful per season. Fortunately, there's now an outlet for the penny-pinching soccerholics in town to get their fill of Verde and Black for a fraction of the cost – without sacrificing all of the Q2 Stadium energy.

Enter Austin FC II – or "VerDos" as some fans have dubbed it – Austin FC's brand-new B squad competing in MLS NEXT Pro, Major League Soccer's minor league division. Similar to the NBA's G League and Hockey's AHL, it serves as a developing and proving ground for young players – including draft picks, academy products, and speculative signings – on the radar of MLS clubs but not quite ready for major league action.

VerDos plays its home matches at Parmer Field, located beside Austin FC's St. David's Performance Center just south of Pflugerville. It's a modest venue by comparison, more reminiscent of a stylish high school ground than Q2 Stadium, but it gets the job done. Directly attached to the grandstand, the Pitch dining and activity complex serves as both an extensive concessions zone as well as a spacious lounge area, handy for halftime boondoggles and periodic leg-stretching breaks.


Austin FC Academy graduate Micah Burton signs his first professional contract with Austin FC II (courtesy of Austin FC)

And here's the biggest headline of all: Every ticket is just $11.50. And parking is free.

At that price, VerDos should have no trouble attracting decent turnouts, especially from within Austin FC's populous supporters' groups. That includes the club's house band, La Murga, striking up the same tunes and chants you'll hear at Q2 Stadium. The 1,200-seat Parmer Field could barely contain the paying attendance for Austin FC II's debut home match on March 24. That atmosphere is unlikely to be topped, but the norm may not settle too far from it.

The biggest reason for that is quality. No, Sebastián Driussi won't be turning up to kick it with the B squad anytime soon, but there is still plenty of talent on display. For starters, a healthy chunk of Austin FC first-team players have been "loaned" to ATXII to get some competitive minutes on their belts. That includes center back Kipp Keller, first-round SuperDraft pick midfielder CJ Fodrey, intriguing forward Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, defender Charlie Asensio, and promising goalkeeper Damian Las.

In addition, the Baby Oaks boast several graduates of Austin FC's fledgling academy, including one player who could be worth the price of admission all by himself: Micah Burton. The precocious, just-turned-17-year-old attacking midfielder officially signed with Austin FC II late last month.

"It's a dream come true to sign my first professional contract, and especially to do so with the Austin FC organization," said Burton, coming off a dynamite CONCACAF U-17 Championship tournament in which he scored three goals in seven games for the U.S. "I've grown a lot as a player and a person with the Austin FC Academy the last few years, and want to thank my family, teammates, coaches, and all the staff who have helped me along the way."

However, it's been another midfielder, Valentin Noël, grabbing the spotlight. The 23-year-old SuperDraft pick from France already has two goals and an assist on the young season, and will look to build on that total Friday night when Austin FC II takes on the Tacoma Defiance in its second-ever home match.

Read more Austin FC coverage at austinchronicle.com/austin-fc.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin FC, The Verde Report, Austin FC II

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