The final game of the 2021 season featured North Texas Soccer Club hosting Union Omaha for a playoff home game after securing a playoff berth earlier in the week.
North Texas maintained the lead for much of the game but a late penalty saw the game end level 1-1, seeing North Texas and Union Omaha tie each other on every occasion in 2021.
Only one change was made to the 4-1 winning team as Devin Benton, making his second start of the season, replaced Mark Salas in the backline.
Bernard Kamuno carried on with his goalscoring momentum and opend the scoring for North Texas after running half the pitch for the solo finish in the 35th minute.
Hope Avayevu was the first substitute for North Texas, replacing Kazu in the 75th minute.
Bernard Kamungo made way for Gabriel de Morais in the 84th minute.
Mikey Maldonado and Alisson (making his return from injury) replaced Kalil El Medkhar and Derek Waldeck respectively in the 89th minute.
Union Omaha was given a penalty kick which was converted by Nicolas Firmino in the 90th minute.
The penalty was enough for Union Omaha to steal a point ending the match with a score, 1-1.
Thoughts & Takeaways
For the much of the season, North Texas has struggled with starting games in a lull as they prefer to go right at their opponent from the start of the game.
While North Texas did attack Omaha from the start, it wasn’t a direct and intense attack and that saw players running into the box and shooting on goal. Rather, North Texas was quick to move up the field but emphasized moving the ball while combinging with players.
“We were moving off the ball, and playing one-two touch and when we do that, we can do stuff and move the ball better than anybody,” Eric Quill told 3rd Degree. “It was ball movement and guys moving off each other and need to do all the game.”
“It was a lot of the little things that probably wont go down in the stat book,” Waldeck explained. “We did a great job of winning the little things and we challenged the first balls and the second balls really well. When you do that right, it gives you more momentum. We did well in tight spaces which allowed us to find gaps up the field.”
The buildup and attacking play was arguably the most thought-out game North Texas has played which will be needed in the playoffs.
The passing combinations by North Texas in the first half was consistent throughout the half and had little variation in the quality of the build up and attacking play.
In the second half, Union Omaha came at North Texas with more energy requiring the North Texas defense to be more involved.
“We absorbed pressure a little more than we would’ve liked,” Waldeck said of Omaha’s pressure. “We were a little sloppy and casual than we would’ve liked. We need to be more on top of the game like we were in the first half. Stuff like that can give them [the opposition] more hope.”
The recent run of form that North Texas has built has been a result of the progress that the team has made over the course of the season.
The progess was well captured in the previous game, overcoming a man advantage to have a comfortable win over the Revolution. The confidence and momentum from that game spilled over against Union Omaha (1st place team in the league).
Eric Quill has put together a squad that believes in each other and will fight for each other. It’s a team that has demonstrated time after time that they can respond to the occasion be it home or away.
“Sometimes we have to win ugly,” Quill said. “We have to find a way to understand how to win ugly and balance risk versus reward.”
North Texas has secured 6th place and will play against the Chattanooga Red Wolves SC in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday, November 6th, at 6 PM.