North Texas Soccer Club remains undefeated through their first two games in MLS Next Pro and sit in 2nd place just 1 point behind Dynamo Dos. After coming off a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Tacoma Defiance the past week, North Texas SC will play host to the Colorado Rapids 2 this weekend.
For a team that is finding its identity under new Head Coach Pa-Modou Kah, North Texas is making progress towards becoming a competitive and cohesive squad after facing a significant roster overhaul.
One of the newest additions to the squad, Isaiah Parker (FC Dallas’ 3rd Overall Pick and Generation Adidas Player), has found himself playing every minute of the 2022 season. For Parker, the adjustment to professional soccer isn’t a dramatic change but has come with some differences.
“I would say that the game is a lot faster and that you really need to think ahead,” Parker said. “Before, I could just rely on my one-v-one skills. Every time I got the ball, I would try to dribble but now I have to think ahead, especially in the left-back position. You can’t just bomb forward every time you have to work on the buildup and you have to know your options before you get the ball.”
Coach Kah has been preaching about growth and his team making every effort to get better with each passing week. One of the more notable areas of growth from North Texas in just two games has been the buildup play.
From the first game to the second, North Texas went from playing short quick passes to adding long-balls and back-line movement (the defensive line moving up the field to push the whole squad forward) to their buildup style.
“I think our buildup has been good and we are going to get better,” Kah said of his team’s play from the back. “It’s only been two games of the season but you can see in both games that we try to dominate the game and we try to impose ourselves in different regions. Every day we try to get better but every single day it is the growth mindset so we can see how the players are growing tactically and mentally.”
Within the buildup play, comes player-specific roles. While tactics can become complicated sets of “rules” and “triggers” that initiate different plays, for North Texas, part of the effectiveness of their game-plan is its simplicity. This is the case for left-back Isaiah Parker.
“I try to win my one-v-one battles against the winger,” Parker explained. “Once I get the chances to go forward, I try to get in a cross to let our strikers score.”
The development of North Texas into a fully complete, consistent, and competitive team is a process that will take time and have changing goals. The one goal that hasn’t changed, and will not change, is the purpose come match day.
“It’s like every game, every game we go into we are looking to win,” Kah said plainly. “Whether we are playing home or away, we are looking to play our football and we are going for the win.”