Adrian Heath is one of the premier coaches in the United States. His extensive experience as a player and his impeccable reputation have brought him to the U.S. to lead one of the USL’s newest clubs.
The 10th place finish this season is not a true representation of the club’s potential. It was the first year in USL for Heath and many of his players and front office staff. He describes the experience as having “an incredibly huge learning curve.” The extensive travel from one side of the country to the other was quite an adjustment for everyone.
The makeup of the club was viewed by many as too young and too inexperienced. Heath would not disagree with this evaluation. He expects them to improve both mentally and physically before next season. The transition from college to the professional level should not be ignored. Intensity of play and training, the amount of travel, and the length of the season were all obstacles for the youthful club. However, the club has grown exponentially since the first game and will be a clear contender for the USL-1 title.
Austin has excellent opportunities that are unmatched by any club in the U.S. or Canada. They won a difficult match against Monterrey on Wednesday night with a score of 1-0. The Aztex will actually make history next week as they become the first USL-1 club to play on European soil. They will play partner club Stoke City, Accrington Stanley, and Sheffield Wednesday during an exciting three-match tour of England.
The tour will show what the club can do under pressure. Heath made it clear that it is not a holiday for players and staff, but an “opportunity to implement what is expected of them in the future.”
Coach Heath has seen great improvement in American soccer over the past 10 years. He acknowledges that the American game has “so much potential collectively.” He strongly believes that the USL will continue next year and that his franchise will not become part of the TOA breakaway league. Many share his concern that such a league will lead to a watered down talent pool and poor performances on the pitch.
Heath hopes to see a closer relationship between the USL and MLS. Both sides can benefit from the partnership, especially in the area of player development.