North Texas practice observations: Feb 18 – strange faces

When you’re strange, No one remembers your name.

The Doors

With FC Dallas’ MLS side jetting off to Flordia, I decided to check in on North Texas Soccer Club as they begin their second week of training camp. So after Tuesday’s FC Dallas new Toyota Stadium food event, I stuck around Frisco to take in Los Toritos.

Late night work, North Texas SC, February 18, 2020. (Buzz Carrick, 3rd Degree)

And boy howdy are there are a ton of new players out there. I’ve been saying this all winter, but I was expecting only four players to return for 2020. It’s now up to five, as you will be below.

I was able to figure who some of the new faces were and got some help with others. I’ll throw in some notes as I go along.

Who’s in Camp – Signed

Four returning players: Imanol Almaguer, Carlos Avilez, David Rodriguez, and Oscar Romero.

Philip Ponder – SMU’s senior defender, signed this winter and is Homegrown eligible. I was impressed with his ball skill – it was better than I expected – and his leadership. He’s already taking vocal control of the team, encouraging and directing.

Gibran Rayo – A FC Dallas U19 who signed a deal this winter.

Alex Bruce – A high-9 type striker who played with the Lansing Ignite last year. He’s a former San Antonio FC player who came out of Quill’s old team, Texans SC of Houston. He signed after the Ignite folded.

Anders Engebretsen – FCD’s 79th overall pick, Saint Mary’s College wing/forward.

Alisson (dos Santos Correa) – A traditional hard-man 6. Built like a bulldog, he’s intimating and impressive. A super good looking player on this first impression. He was wearing #27 today.

Cuadrado – A Brazilian right back. A little raw and has some vertical type qualities. Perhaps a bit more of a project than I expected. Aka Pedro Conceição Alves.

Luis Zamudio – The newest goalkeeper signing. He impressed me with a couple of athletic saves today. I like what I see here.

Who’s in Camp – Trialists

Carlos EnriquezSidekicks backup goalkeeper.

Kamar Marriott – He’s a former FCD Academy/Premier player who spent four seasons at Florida Gulf Coast and was drafted by Sporting KC in 2019. He’s got an injury of some kind but is still here working on the side. He’s 6’4″.

Two young men from Foro SC – Coach Michel’s UPSL club – Guillermo Estrada and Diego Guiterrez. Estrada made a terrific first impression on me, perhaps the stand out of the day. I didn’t notice him much in small drills, but when the field opened up for the open play drill he came to life and really showed something. I’m intrigued.

Lucas (or Lukas?) – A kid from Argentina who’s been working with the FCD U19s.

News and Notes

The loan I was hearing about for Ronaldo Damus didn’t come to fruition. He’s not in camp yet but Quill says he will be with North Texas SC in 2020. So that’s 5 returning players for NTXSC.

A trialist named Ben Watson from Ed Puskarich’s club Texas Sours is in camp (or will be) but wasn’t in this session.

Hope Kodzo and Emmanuel Awuah – the two young Ghanian players FCD discovered playing for Bechem Utd in the Dallas Cup – are not in camp but are expected to return at some point in the first half of the season after they each turn 18.

Juan Manuel Alvarez – the player on loan from Monterrey – turns out to be an 8-type mid. FCD took him to Florida this week. Yes, FCD is short on bodies in the midfield, but the invite should tell you something about his level.

Derek Waldeck – FCD’s 66th overall pick, who can play as a 6 or a left back, also went to Florida with FCD.

Catching up with Coach Eric Quill

You’ve only got a few players coming back, lots of rebuilding. You’re just getting into the spring, how’s it going? Feeling good about where you are?

I am feeling good about where we are.

You know, the new acquisitions have been really pleasant surprises.   The two Brazilians I think are going to bring a lot to us.  Juan Manuel from Monterrey has done extremely well, so you know, I think we are stronger in a lot of areas than we were last year.

They’ve come in with the right attitude for this the training environment. For the most part, we’re killing them right now. The physical part is the most important these two weeks. And they’re getting there, they’re putting in the work.

You guys do a lot of local scouting and that kind of thing, have you found any of the proverbial “diamonds-in-the-rough” this year? Any surprises this early?

There’s so much talent in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, so through the UPSL teams that we’re involved with and our connections through guys like Michel and Ed Puskarich, you know, we’re able to take recommendations on these players that they have that they think need a shot.

And that’s the beauty of the relationships that we form. We receive a lot of players and sort of, you know, give invitations to come in and try out.  Some of these guys come in and do pretty well.

Typically they’re missing one or two things that really keep them from breaking in the door of a team like this, but you can see the kids that we added -from a trialist standpoint – they’ve got from some things that they’re pretty good at that lend to making our sessions pretty strong.

North Texas SC fitness work, February 18, 2020. (Buzz Carrick, 3rd Degree)

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