Injury woes for North Texas SC against Fort Lauderdale CF

North Texas Soccer Club headed to the Sunshine State to play against Fort Lauderdale CF. In a hot and humid affair, North Texas SC didn’t get the start that they hoped and had to make several early injury substitutions.

Despite having a better second half response, North Texas SC came short and lost 2-3. The club now sits in 8th place with 5 points after 5 games.

The Game

Eric Quill went to Florida with only one FC Dallas player – Homegrown Carlos Avilez – who started between the posts.

Lamar Batista got the start at left center-back, pairing with fellow center-back Brecc Evans, while Derek Waldeck and Justin Che were the left and right full-backs respectively.

David Rodriguez replaced Thomas Roberts in the midfield while Imanol Almaguer and Alisson retained their starting role.

Ronaldo Damus continued at the striker position with Beni Redzic and Collin Smith playing on the left and right of Damus respectively.

North Texas SC Starting XI vs Fort Lauderdale CF

North Texas SC didn’t start the match in the manner that they hoped for as two players were substituted early due to injury: Beni Redzic and Imanol Almaguer. Redzic was brought off just after taking a shot on goal while Almaguer was brought off after going down during a challenge.

It got worse for North Texas SC after Carlos Avilez’s clearance fell to Derek Waldeck, turned the ball over to Eduardo Sosa who passed the ball to Ricky Lopez-Espin who scored the opening goal.

It didn’t get any better after Eduardo Sosa was able to dribble past the North Texas SC defense and cross the ball to Ricky Lopez-Espin who scored the second goal of the game not even 10 minutes later.

Things started to head in the right direction for North Texas SC when Ronaldo Damus was brought down just inside of the 18-yard box by goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira. The resulting penalty was scored by Oscar Romero, cutting Fort Lauderdale’s lead in half at 1-2.

Fort Lauderdale continued to show their attacking prowess in the second half as Felipe Valencia was able to put the ball past Carlos Avilez and Brecc Evans despite Avilez previously making a double save.

Eric Quill brought in his last two field players, Philip Ponder and Alex Bruce, for Lamar Batista and David Rodriguez respectively as he urged his team to come out of the game with a point.

North Texas SC responded from a Oscar Romero free-kick as Brecc Evans laid off the ball to Alisson who slotted the ball into the back of the net from 6-yards out.

Despite North Texas SC’s best efforts, they could not salvage the deficit and lost 2-3.

Fort Lauderdale CF players celebrate after scoring. (Fort Lauderdale CF)

Thoughts & Takeaways

Second Half Response

Eric Quill demonstrated in 2019 that he is capable of having his teams change their play style in the second half of games. North Texas SC was able to start the second half with an intensity that was missing in the first half. The response saw North Texas SC play a more direct game against Fort Lauderdale with a greater purpose and speed.

Even after going down a third goal, the Texans increased their intensity and desire to earn a second and third goal. The second goal did come from a quality pass by Oscar Romero to Brecc Evans whose first -touch set up Alisson with plenty of space and time to score.

While the response is what North Texas SC needed to remain competitive in the match, the positive response arguably came too late.

North Texas SC appeared to be more reactive rather than proactive in their game style. Coach Quill wants his teams to go and dictate the game rather than react to what the opposition does.

While only 5 games have passed it does feel that North Texas SC seems to respond well after conceding a lead this season. The club has done well to recover points from their last two home matches and rightfully deserve the praise for coming out of those games with a point.

Though, in an ideal scenario, North Texas SC wants to be starting the match with a sense of control and implementing its gameplan rather than having to respond after going down a few goals.

The Defense

It has been said multiple times that the ultimate goal of North Texas SC is to produce and prepare players for FC Dallas when they make the transition from the second-team to the first-team. It doesn’t come as a surprise that each new season is going to have nearly a completely new team.

As a result of the constant change in the team, North Texas SC has a new back-line that only features Brecc Evans as the only repeat player from 2019. More in-game experience and consistency will help create a better defensive line for any team.

Again, in a shortened season, North Texas SC has pressure from other teams as the defending champions. The old saying “defense wins you championships” does hold some merit, especially in the case of North Texas SC. 2019 featured a strong center-back pair of Brecc Evans and Callum Montgomery with Jonathan Gomez and Imanol Almaguer as the full-backs.

Though, like last year’s back-line, the new back-line of Justin Che, Brecc Evans, Lamar Batista, and Derek Waldeck needs time to gel and get acclimated as a defensive unit.

The question that remains is whether or not the defensive-unit (as a team) will come together in time to finish within a top-two spot to play in the USL League One Final come October.

Putting It Together

When North Texas SC played against New England Revolution II, the attacking game-plan worked in North Texas SC’s favor. The players were finding space and created chances for themselves, though, they lacked the finishing capabilities to turn chances into goals.

Similarly, North Texas SC did well to pressure Fort Lauderdale’s defense when in the final third and did create quality chances. Fort Lauderdale did well to commit numbers in front of the ball and frustrate the North Texas attack. While the chances were there, the final product was missing in terms of consistency.

Credit must be given to the team as a whole for responding and scoring two goals. NTX created their own chances but failed to convert. Now it’s a matter of combining the quality chances (and final product) with a better defensive performance.

In previous games, North Texas SC hasn’t entirely been outplayed but was rather caught in awkward positions that exposed the gaps and space in dangerous places for the opposition.

It also happens that the mistakes are being converted into goals that put North Texas SC in a disadvantageous spot and create more pressure on the team to produce results.

If given a regular length season (28 games in 2019 and 2020), it would be expected that North Texas SC could their gameplan and defense, and polish their attack by the end of the season.

With nearly half of the season gone (42.9% decrease in the number of games), the challenge to become a solid and complete team is harder and feels rushed.

The issue is further complicated with the extremely limited movement of FC Dallas players between the first-team and North Texas SC.

North Texas SC returns home to Globe Life Park on Sunday, August 23rd to play against Union Omaha after losing on the road to the Owls.

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