Soccer has returned for North Texas Soccer Club as the development club if FC Dallas looks to defend their title in their second season in USL League One. North Texas SC will begin their season at home Saturday, July 25 in their new home at Globe Life Park against their El Plastico rival, Forward Madison FC.
After a delay to the start of the 2020 season, the young club will be more than excited to return to play with their passion for “the beautiful game.”
As was the case for FC Dallas, North Texas SC’s start to 2020 has been very different than anticipated. With the global pandemic changing nearly aspect of life, North Texas SC has been impacted as well.
For North Texas SC head coach, Eric Quill, he is more than excited to be returning to the field saying, “The guys are really excited and I think that this is a moment that people have been searching for and needing. I think that it’s exciting.”
With social distancing becoming the norm in everyday life, the young team has experienced its own changes to their training regiments. Locker-rooms have been closed off to the players, high-fives and hugs are nonexistent, even getting the opportunity to have regular training was difficult.
The staff has taken in the possibility of infection and are making sure that their team understands the severity and importance of staying vigilant in their efforts to prevent infection. Regular testing has been adopted to help the club and players understand how COVID-19 might spread within the team.
“We are testing twice a week right now,” Coach Quill said about changes to training. “It’s very hard because the guys’ and coaches’ natural tendencies are to high-five each other, be close to each other, laugh together, tell jokes and so the environment has been tough.”
“The beauty of teams is how close you can get and the chemistry you can get but chemistry is at a social-distance right now,” Quill continued. “The guys are bringing their own water to practice. We are not having guys share pennies at all. The guys take them home, wash them, and bring it back. We are trying to eliminate all possibilities of [Covid-19] transfer.”
“Luckily right now we’re healthy and we have been doing a really good job with it but it’s something that we have to deal with every day. It’s not something you can let up and be lax. “
North Texas SC did bring in some new faces during the offseason and those players have been spending time getting to know their new teammates with the elongated break. The club was able to get some preseason games before the outbreak of COVID-19 and the coaching staff wants to build up upon last season’s success.
After defeating USL Championship side El Paso Locomotive in a convincing fashion and then suffering a disappointing loss against FC Tusla, North Texas SC looked to pick up right where they left off the 2019 season. Those preseason games allowed for some of North Texas SC’s newer members to get acclimated to the coach staff’s style of play.
“I thought they went really well,” Quill said of the preseason games. “I think our new pieces are not used to that kind of commitment to the build even when the high pressure is coming. A lot of them come from environments where it’s always emergency sort-of clearance. They have time to understand that they are going to make mistakes and we told them that they will but that is what this is about.”
Quill says the staff put the new players under pressure as making mistakes and learning from them is how you develop composure in the back. The quicker that happens, the better off the new players will be.
“We really preached composure and understanding outlets and movement and triangles. We aren’t going to be mad at them for going for emergency clearances but we want them to understand that we are okay with taking risks and moving out of the back when teams press us.”
While it has been quite some time since the ball was kicked competitively for North Texas SC, the downtime has given the new players time to gel with their more veteran teammates. The coaching staff has been impressed with the response of the newer players given the challenging circumstances.
“Most of the guys live in the same apartment complex and two or three of them are sharing apartments,” Eric Quill said about his players during the pandemic. “During a time of COVID where people are isolated to their houses, at least they have a roommate where someone is going through with it with you. I think a lot of them were forced to get to know them faster than they normally would.”
Quill says he’s been really impressed with the comradery that his players are showing with each other. “They have been putting in a ton of work with the Zoom workouts when we were isolated to our house. It’s been a long road and these guys haven’t complained and their work ethic has been outstanding. I’m really proud of them how they have come through all of this and I’m really glad they are getting rewarded with a season.”
North Texas SC has already established that even as a development club, they are trying to teach their young players what it takes and what it means to be a winner.
For Coach Quill, he not only wants to develop his players but also wants them to seize the moment and opportunities that they have. “We’re going to get everybody’s best shot in the league. People will be gunning for us. I hope that the guys that were here last year will understand that.”
“I think for the new guys it’s easier for them because they are hungry and it’s a new environment and so they want to impress and they want to show well and it’s the meeting of two minds so to speak,” Quill continued.
“I think that it’s our job as a staff to remind our guys that last year is behind us and it’s a new year and the pieces that we brought are going to allow us to look a little different in our build – we are going to be the same, the philosophies never change, we are going to press and dominate the ball and be relentless in our hunting – and those will always be there and it’s part of our DNA. The new pieces we added are upgrades in a lot of areas. “
Quill says that for him, winning and development go hand-in-hand. The coaches have to teach guys to be winners all the time and not just sometimes. The goal, after all, is to prepare them for the next level.
“We do a lot of work on individual things and small group trainings, improving their learning capacity so that they have to learn fast,” Quill said of the club’s methodology. “This is a great opportunity for them at North Texas [SC] but these guys don’t have five to ten years to sit here and develop. We want them to develop fast within the year.”
“When that profile is needed in the first team, he is ready, and he understands all the concepts. At the end of the day, the first team wants to win. We have to create winners that understand the winning mentality when their number is called.”
North Texas not only gives the future players of FC Dallas time and minutes to develop but gives provides competitive opportunities for some FC Dallas players as well.
2019 provided valuable minutes for players like Ricardo Pepi, Edwin Cerrillo, and Brandon Servania before becoming key pieces in Luchi Gonzalez’s FC Dallas side. The pandemic has complicated some of the daily integration between FC Dallas and North Texas SC but the movement of players is entirely ruled out.
“I think it’s going to be more difficult and you won’t see as much of it on a daily basis,” Coach Quill said about the integration of first-team and second-team players. “I think you’ll still see first-team guys playing games with us. We just want to eliminate the cross-over as much as possible.
“It’s not going to be like Luchi all of the sudden calling a player over mid training for a session. We have calculated risks now. We have to make sure the guys are getting tested and we aren’t going to be negligent with players’ health.”
“It’s going to be different from last year but there will be integration; as far as guys coming down and playing games. Maybe at some point later when things go well from the health standpoint, maybe there’s more guys coming up from the second-team into the first-team training. Right now, I don’t see that integration piece [within training] anytime soon.”
After spending the first season at Toyota Stadium, the young club is has spread its wings and moved to a new home at Globe Life Park. Next door neighbors to the Texas Rangers, North Texas SC now has the chance to play in a newly renovated stadium that is designed with soccer (and previously XFL football) in mind.
Plenty of individuals at the club have expressed their pleasure with a new field and many are pleased with the quality of the turf field. “It really is amazing,” Eric Quill said about Globe Life Park. “We just did an intrasquad there last weekend and saw the finished piece. They did an outstanding job with the stadium and the surface is outstanding, the locker-rooms are great.”
“It’s just a unique place for a second team and I want the guys to understand how blessed they are to play at a place like this and a place to make their own. They are excited after being there last weekend and to play at home this weekend and I hope that excitement carries over in the right ways and allows us to be victorious.”
“This turf is top of the line,” Quill gushed. “It’s as close to grass that you are going to get. Everyone is really happy with it, the players are happy with it, and the staff thinks is great.”
While many still await the return of FC Dallas, North Texas SC is ready to showcase the future stars of FC Dallas and reclaim their championship title. For a club that some of the highest highs and lowest lows in 2019, North Texas SC is a team that every FC Dallas fan should be invested in.
For a club that is focused on player development with the desire and capabilities of winning silverware, 2020 looks to be yet another promising season for North Texas SC.