North Texas Soccer Club returned home as the hunt for a playoff spot has ramped up. Hoping to break a 6 game winless streak, North Texas SC hosted former league leaders Union Omaha at Chocktaw Stadium.
For the 3rd time in 2021, Union Omaha and North Texas finished even. With the latest edition finishing 2-2.
Freddy Vargas and Kalil El Medkhar were the notable returnees froM FC Dallas. Nicky Hernandez and Blaine Ferri returned to their starting position after being on the bench against South Georgia Tormenta. Collin Shutler was between the sticks for Richard Sanchez.
Union Omaha got the start they desired thanks to Damia Viader’s shot beating Shutler in the 11th minute.
Kalil ElMedkhar, who has been having a comfortable season with North Texas, brought the game level in the 18th minute.
Kalil continued to have an impact by playing a ball over the top from midfield to Freddy Vargas in the 53rd minute.
Imanol Almaguer replaced Collin Smith as the first substitute moving Maldonado to the right-back position and Almaguer in the midfield in the 56th minute.
Nicky Hernandez made way for Kazu in the 79th minute.
Evan Conway, Omaha’s leading goalscorer in 2020, brought the game level in the 82nd minute.
Bernad Kamungo was the final substitute for North Texas as he replaced Gibran Rayo in the 87th minute.
North Texas SC and Union Omaha finished level 2-2.
Thoughts & Takeaways
North Texas and youth go hand-in-hand when describing the development club. With youth comes plenty of energy and North Texas SC has brought energy to their games over the course of the season.
Union Omaha, a team that consistently grinds during their games, put North Texas in a hole for a good portion of the first half. This caused North Texas to sit back deeper but as the game progressed, the team responded with high intensity and energy.
“This game here is the last straw of us giving up goals in the last minute,” El Medkhar told 3rd Degree. “There is a really good belief around the team and that we want to make the playoffs. We just have to do more and do the little things right.”
With the end of the season coming sooner, North Texas can draw on their energy and ability to respond in-game as they build momentum heading into the playoff push.
North Texas has been setting streaks as of late. The two recent and notable are the recent 9-game unbeaten streak (ended with a loss to Chattanooga), and the active 7-game winless streak.
In one way, the team has struggled with closing out games at their own expense rather than crumbling to their opposition’s game plan. Simple errors or lack of concentration has resulted in North Texas conceded possession and goals in the finals moments of games.
“The biggest thing with our team right now is closing games,” Eric Quill said. “This, unfortunately, happens again and again. We have to look better and we have to really change things these next few weeks.”
In contrast, consistency hasn’t always been a defining characteristic of North Texas in previous seasons. The club has constantly been on an upward trajectory this season and has become the masters of their own fate. North Texas has been consistent to play high-intensity games both on the road and at home.
“We should have urgency not being down but be the aggressors coming right out of the game,” Kalil said. “We have done that a few times this year and it has really paid off.”
A determining factor for North Texas will be whether or not the team can stay true to the fundamentals that the coaching staff was worked on with the team: playing a passing game with an emphasis on positioning and combing players without conceding space defensively.
North Texas SC has 27 points through 22 games and sits in 9th place with 6 games remaining in their season.
North Texas heads back on the road for a 2 game road trip with the first stop in North Carolina on Sunday, September 26, at 1 pm.