North Texas Soccer Club played hosts against the Richmond Kickers for the final time of 2021. After a heartbreaking loss in their previous match-up, North Texas wanted to secure all three points in their final 3 games of the season.
In spite of the strong start, North Texas were victims to late goals and the Richmond Kickers secures the comeback win 2-1 for North Texas’ second home loss of 2021.
Eddie Munjoma and Nkosi Tafari reappeared in the back line after spending time with FC Dallas. Gibran Rayo recovered his starting position as the line striker with an unchanged midfield underneath him.
Gibran Rayo opened the scoring for North Texas SC in the 33rd minute, getting his 5th of the season, with North Texas being the more aggressive team in the opening minutes.
Derek Waldeck replaced Kazu in the 57th minute as the first substitute of the game. Waldeck became the left full-back with Eddie Munjoma moved higher up the field playing on the left.
Gibran Rayo and Lucas made way for Mikey Maldonado and Mark Salas respectively in the 73rd minute. This moved Nicky Hernandez and Blaine Ferri higher into the field while Imanol Almaguer and Mikey Maldonado formed a defensive duo in the midfield.
Zacarias Moran wasn’t letting Richmond go out quietly in the game after scoring a rocket of a goal in the 81st minute.
Bernard Kamungo and Hope Avayevu substituted in for Blaine Ferri and Collin Smith respectively in the 88th minute creating a more offensive shape.
Ivan Magalhes got the leading goal for Richmond in the 90’+3’rd minute.
Richmond secured the comeback win 2-1 to continue their 4 game winning streak.
Thoughts & Takeaways
With the season winding to a close, North Texas sits outside the playoffs but still controls their playoff fate.
Eric Quill has stressed the importance of his team starting, maintaining, and finished both mentally and tactically sharp which was clearly demonstrated from the first whistle.
“Everyone knows what the table is like”, Almaguer said of the start of the game. “As a player, the first ten minutes are very important to us. You saw almost the whole first half we were able to manage it and we were rotating the ball and moving forward. The second half we sat back and that is not really our game. We have to push through and I know that we make the playoffs.”
Starting games off as North Texas did against Richmond highlights the maturity and growth the team has accomplished over the season. Similarly, the chemistry and confidence the players have developed from playing multiple games together.
With the commanding start from North Texas came an equally impressive focus to obtain, maintain, but missing in the result.
“We created a lot of chances but did put away goals,” Eric Quill said. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen this too many times and we are hurting ourselves.”
Known for keeping games interesting up until the final minute North Texas, in combination with tactical substitutions, did their best to preserve the lead that they had earned in the first half.
It appears that the players have found a way to grind out and maintain results, highlighting the team growth that the club has made from individual to team, but they are still lacking in the ability to see out a lead.
“We were a little more casual than we usually are on gamedays,” Almaguer explained. “It wasn’t good, but I feel like we are still in this thing. We have the ability to make a comeback and make the playoffs.”
Many things went in the favor of North Texas and much of it can be credited to the mentality and focus the players had during the entire game but the club is once again haunted by late goals.
“We have to figure out how to stop all the bad things and really emphasize the good things about our game,” Quill said of his team’s game. “The performance from us was below average.”
FC Dallas Influence
As both FC Dallas’ and North Texas’ seasons come to an end, NorthTexas has a serious chance at making the playoffs and bring playoff soccer to DFW for a professional FC Dallas-affiliated team.
Kalil ElMedkhar, Nkosi Tafari, Nicky Hernandez, Collin Smith, and Eddie Munjoma have made an impact with North Texas SC coming down from FC Dallas.
With 3 games to play for NTX and with the playoff hopes for FC Dallas are shrinking, one can imagine an increase of younger FCD players making appearances with North Texas SC both to get game minutes but also secure a playoff birth for NTX.
Additionally, as the coaching search continues for North Texas SC, Eric Quill will continue to make his case (under the assumption he is in contention) by demonstrating not only what he has accomplished with North Texas players but also with FC Dallas players in his squad.
North Texas SC has 33 points through 25 games and sits in 7th place. They also have lost the tiebreaker (number of wins) with current 6th place FC Tucson.
3 games remain for North Texas SC as they travel for the final time in 2021 to Fort Lauderdale at 7:30 PM on Sunday, October 17th.