Anthony De Anda became the first Austin FC Academy player to sign with a professional development club.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The assembly line for the Austin Football Club academy and its new Austin FC II development team went live Monday.

17-year-old defender Anthony De Anda has become the first academy player to sign with Austin FC II, Verde’s professional development team entering MLS NEXT Pro this season. De Anda signed a two-year contract until 2024, with the club’s option for two more years.

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Even as a defenseman, De Anda has shown a knack for scoring big goals for the Austin under-17 academy team. He scored two goals against New York City in the MLS NEXT playoffs and was in the league’s All-Star Game last summer. De Anda has also spent time with the U.S. Under-19 men’s team training with them in 2022.

“I am very happy to sign with Austin FC II and have the opportunity to compete at the professional level this season,” he said in a press release. “I want to thank my Austin FC Academy teammates and staff for all their help with my journey.”

The move highlights how important it is for the Austin Football Club to have a development team as a liaison to academic-level players.

“This move shows the tremendous potential of a second team that completes the full journey from our youth level to our first team,” said Sean Rubio, Director of Human Resources at Austin Football Club. “Anthony has consistently impressed at the Austin FC Academy and we are confident he is ready to move up to the MLS NEXT Pro level.”

Austin FC II has signed five players so far. The 2023 MLS Next Pro schedule has yet to be released and Austin FC II is one of seven expansion teams to enter the league this season.

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