North Texas Soccer Club has already clinched the final Western Conference playoff position earlier in the week, thanks to a San Jose Earthquakes II draw.
On Sunday afternoon, playing in their final home game and penultimate regular season game, North Texas SC hosted Saint Louis City 2 at Choctaw Stadium.
North Texas got to a flying start with two first-half goals which did the trick by securing 3 more points against their opponent with a 3-1 win.
Nolan Norris and Blaine Ferri were the two changes to the starting lineup from the previous 2-1 win over Minnesota.
Bernard Kamungo continues his goalscoring streak getting his 15th goal of the season in the 9th minute. Hope Avayevu registered his 8th assist of the season.
Jose Mulato got his first goal in 2 games in the 18th minute from a Hope Avayevu pass in the 19th minute to double the lead.
Blake Pope and Tomás Lacerda entered for Hope Avayevu & Blaine Ferri respectively in the 70th minute.
Bernard Kamungo got a brace thanks to a brilliant curled long ball by Collin Smith to give North Texas the 3-0 lead in the 76th minute.
José Mulato made way for Luis Miguel in the 77th minute.
Santiago Ferreira and Tarik Scott were the final additions to the game replacing Bernard Kamungo and Carl Sainté in the 81st minute.
Saint Louis pulled a goal back thanks to Dida Armstrong in the 85th minute to make the game 3-1.
North Texas SC secured the three points with the 3-1 win.
Thoughts & Takeaways
Coming into this game, Saint Louis had only suffered 3 road losses all season while having 8 wins and 1 draw. With such a road record, North Texas didn’t have an easy task against a team right above them in the standings.
“We wanted to start the game on the front foot,” Pa-Modou Kah said. “We had to fight and I think you saw that. They came out hungry and we got those two goals in the first half.”
What played to North Texas’ advantage was their ability to move up the field effectively and quickly to apply pressure to Saint Louis.
“We know that Saint Louis pushes high and try to trap their opponents,” midfield Andre Costa explained. “So we wanted to move the ball quickly to get into space and get out behind them out wide. We are able to have the ball and play one-to-two touch plays which really helped.”
The commitment to get forward resulted in two first-half goals afford North Texas to control and set the tempo for the rest of the game.
If any part of the North Texas game has lagged behind the overall growth the team has made over the course of the season, it would be the speed of transition.
Saint Louis did well to quickly transition from defense to attack and did catch North Texas in uncomfortable positions. Though, the home side did well to defend as a group and force Saint Luis out wide.
“Our field is really big and there is a lot of space so there can be a lot of transitions,” Costa explained. “We knew that we wanted to attack but we have to transition quickly when we don’t have the ball. It’s a key part of the game.”
North Texas’ transition play will be an aspect of their game to watch in the final game of the season as well as heading into the playoffs.
With the quick show of force moving forward and determination to defend against Saint Louis, the mentality of North Texas is exactly where one wants it to be before the playoffs.
“The approach from the whole team is amazing,” Bernard Kamungo said of his team. “The mentality is to keep going. We know how other teams play but we just want to go out there and play our game.”
The team is focused and determined to impose their style of play on the game and is unphased by the quality or who their opponent is.
“The mentality of the group is fantastic,” Kah said. “They come in to work day-in-and-day-out. They come in hungry to work and they have their eyes on the prize. They were rewarded with the best performances of the year… I’m super proud of this group and the work that they made over the course of the season.”
Much credit has to be given to Coach Pa and his staff for working with these players and for a remarkable game plan.
North Texas SC will head on the road for their final regular season match on Sunday, September 18th at 6 PM Central as they face their rival Houston Dynamo 2.