After suffering their first home loss in nearly two years, North Texas Soccer Club looked to rebound against South Georgia Tormenta FC in Arlington on Sunday evening. After going down a goal early in the second half, North Texas SC rallied to win their second game of the season.
A few familiar faces in Bernard Kamungo, Alejandro Viniegra, and Caiser Gomes made their first starts for North Texas SC. Rickson Van Hees made his first gameday roster after coming from NEC Nijmegen in the Dutch second division.
Eric Quill continues to utilize the flexible “4-4-2” formation that has seen varied levels of success through the first three games of the season.
After being scoreless at the half, Nicky Hernandez made way for Collin Smith at the start of the second half.
Micaletto broke the deadlock with a rocket of a shot from distance to given Tormenta FC the lead in the 57th minute.
Thibaut Jacquel and Mikey Maldonado entered the match for Kalil ElMedkhar and Alisson, respectively, immediately after Tormenta took the lead.
Alejandro Viniegra leveled the game after receiving the ball from Derek Waldeck in the 59th minute.
Imanol Almaguer gave North Texas SC the lead off a cleared ball that fell to him with his shot taking a deflection into the back of the net in the 70th minute.
Hope Avayevu replaced Alejandro Viniegra in the 79th minute.
Alex Bruce was the final substitution replacing Imanol Almaguer in the 87th minute.
North Texas SC completed the comeback defeating South Georgia Tormenta FC 2-1.
Thoughts & Takeaways
Within the first three games, North Texas SC’s defensive ability as a team has arguably been the weakest part of the club’s game.
“We didn’t really have our whole team from preseason,” Imanol Almaguer told 3rd Degree. “Our preseason started in week one so we’ve been managing defensive midfielders and the forwards and trying to link and find that chemistry and I feel like we’ve been doing that really well.
While the North Texas SC back-line featured a new center-back pairing in Parra and Gomes, there were improvements in the quality of defending. Both Gomes and Parra are physical defenders that are not afraid to shake off an oncoming attacker.
Alisson, in his second year with the club, has provided stability centrally in North Texas SC’s defense. He limited the success Tormenta had going through the midfield which forced the Georgia club to move the ball out wide.
Tormenta restored to crossing the ball into the box and if given space, playing the ball between the North Texas full-back and center-back which lead to the visitor’s most threatening chances.
There are still lapses in defensive concentration but North Texas SC has shown promise of improvement in this game.
On the flip side, North Texas SC has shown quality in the speed and frequency of chances the team produces.
As the squad has been coming together, the short and quick passes to put the North Texas SC attackers in space occurred with higher frequency as shown in the first half.
“We were lively in the last thirty-five minutes,” Eric Quill said of the chances being created. “I thought we had really good movements and having guys in the right spots with the timing of the movements and the timing of the passes.”
The team has also improved when committing numbers forward in the attack to create a personnel advantage and recover any cleared balls to restart the attack. The increased number of forward-moving players was how North Texas SC earned their second goal and how they increased the number of attacking opportunities from the first half.
Eric Quill has emphasized the importance of responding after a setback be it after losing a game or going down a goal. The North Texas SC players responded in the manner that both the coaching staff and the fans would’ve wanted: with goals and a win.
In a change from the first two years of the club’s existence, there is a feeling amongst the players and during the game that the North Texas SC players are not “out-of-the-game” when going down a goal, especially at home.
“I think the guys know the quality within the group,” Coach Quill said of his team’s response. “They know that when they are down that they can bounce back. They are super dynamic and really technical, they are technical players. For me, we just need to have a better mentality to start games and one day we are going to score first.”
The energy and desire for the club to not only bring the game level but to continue to attack even after taking the lead is refreshing.
Though, the young professionals will also want to see out matches when having the lead and not expose themselves to opportunities that could see North Texas SC lose points late in matches.
North Texas(2-0-2) sits in 5th place with 6 points. The development club heads north of the U.S. border to play against Toronto FC II on Saturday, May 22, at 9:00 PM.