North Texas SC dominated North Carolina FC for the complete match, with goals coming from Kalil ElMedkhar, Kazu, Gabriel de Morais, and Nicky Hernandez. The defensive work of North Texas cannot be overlooked, as the home team smothered every attacking opportunity from the visitors, even denying their opponents a shot for the entire first half.
Head Coach Eric Quill cites the reason behind NTSC’s back-to-back shutouts as, “Working hard behind the ball” and “working how tight the shape should be.”
Goalkeeper Colin Shutler echoed this as well, for him the “constant communication with the backline and midfield” was vital in their defensive dominance.
Kazu made another start in attack for North Texas SC and Kalil El Medkhar returned to the team as well, as North Texas takes on North Carolina FC. It was a first start for Brazilian-born no. 9 Gabriel de Morais as well.
For the visitors, 18-year-old playmaker Cole Frame would look to make a difference.
NTXSC are looking to keep pace for the top half of the table alongside Forward Madison and continue pushing for a playoff spot, North Carolina sat dead last in the USL League One at 3-3-9.
North Texas got off to a quick start, as 10 minutes in Hope Avayevu slips a through ball to ElMedkhar who fakes a shot to lose his defender then smashes it home at the near post to put the home side ahead.
“I was shocked he squeezed it through,” Kalil remarked after the game, “I was gonna shoot with my right but I saw he committed hard so I switched it to my left.”
Nearly 10 minutes later Kazu gets a scolding from the ref for repeatedly denying the restart of play after he was called offsides.
21 minutes in Hope got a yellow for a near two-footed slide tackle near the sidelines and goes down injured after previously going down injured after previously assisting the opening goal. Minutes later he is replaced by Nicky Hernandez.
Kazu doubled North Texas’ lead 26 minutes in after a fantastic first touch and shot from ElMedkhar, which bounces off the far post and Kazu pounces on the opportunity.
The goals kept coming, as 40 minutes in, North Texas got a third! Derek Waldeck intercepted at midfield and carried into the box before laying it off to De Morais who finessed it around the keeper to put the hosts well out in front. His first goal for the club!
Just before the end of the half, Colin Smith made a fantastic recovery run to deny North Carolina a shot. It wasn’t until 8 minutes after the half, that North Carolina would register their first shot of the game.
Nicky Hernandez danced through the midfield and past the defense but his effort is saved by Jake McGuire. Three minutes later Nicky would get a second chance from the spot. Blaine Ferri passes across to Gabriel who is chopped down. Hernandez converts from the spot and dances like his hips don’t lie to celebrate.
The game de-escalated pretty quickly after the fourth goal, but an avalanche of yellow cards would follow for the home team.
After 64 minutes, Nicky Hernandez goes into the book after a slide tackle outside the 18 (Yellow Card Count after being up 4 goals: 1)
Two North Texas difference-makers came off just after the hour mark, as Blaine Ferri and Kazu leave for ‘Imagoal’ Almaguer and Bernard Kamungo. Kazu scored his 5th goal in his 6th game at Left Wing for the club.
Ferri’s work on the pitch cannot be understated. Did well to win the ball back throughout the midfield and excelled at evading pressure. A bright performance from him.
67 minutes in, Michael Maldonado went into the book for a two-footed slide tackle outside the box. (Yellow Card Count after being up 4 goals: 2)
71 minutes in, a yellow card was issued to Almaguer for talking back to the ref (Yellow Card Count after being up 4 goals: 3)
With 15 minutes left to play, Colin Smith went into the book as well as he pulls back a defender just outside the 18. (Yellow Card Count after being up 4 goals: 4)
Overall, it was a dominant performance on the night from the men of North Texas, who capitalized on their chances and suffocated their opponents’ attacks. Kalil’s first-half performance gives him the edge at MOTM for me, but the work of Blaine Ferri and Nicky Hernandez in the midfield was unmissable as well today.
After the game, Coach Quill remarked on the Kalil, saying he was “Outstanding tonight, great attitude, motivated, wants to get better every game.” and he continued his praise of young ElMedkhar “He makes a difference- he’s a game-changer. I expect him to have a really long career in MLS, his opportunity will come here soon.”
The other key figure on the night was Blaine Ferri, who has been getting “better and better each game. Getting confidence on the ball, rarely looses the ball, always going forward always trying to think vertical.” Quill concluded by saying he has loved watching Blaine’s growth as a player with North Texas.
It is a short turnaround for NTSC, who travel to Chattanooga on Tuesday before another installment of El Plastico versus Forward Madison over the weekend.