After winning their first penalty shootout of the year last week, North Texas Soccer Club hosted the Colorado Rapids 2 on Sunday.
Looking to remain unbeaten in their first three games, the young NTX squad completed the comeback win in a similar fashion to FC Dallas for a 3-1 win.
Only one player change occurred, Collin Smith for Pablo Torre, from the previous game against Tacoma. Bernard Kamungo shifted to the striker position while Blake Pope became the right-winger.
The Rapids opened the scoring thanks to Yaya Toure in the 35th minute.
North Texas earned a penalty before the end of the first half and Blaine Ferri converted the penalty to bring the game level in the 45+1′ minute.
North Texas took the lead from Hope Avayevu‘s shot in the 52nd minute.
Santiago Ferreira and Derek Waldeck were replaced by Andre Costa and Tomas Lacerda in the 65th minute.
Luis Miguel entered for Blake Pope in the 75th minute.
Bernard Kamungo scored the third for North Texas in the 77th minute.
Hope Avayevu was substituted for Jose Mulato in the 79th minute.
North Texas SC completed the comeback and finished 3-1 over Colorado Rapids 2.
Thoughts & Takeaways
The first half from North Texas was not the normal type of play that has been established in the first two games of the season.
While the club started the first 10 minutes strong, Colorado become more imposing than the home side. North Texas came off as more reserved and reactive than the typical.
“The first half was all about that last touch, who was going to kill the game,” Kamungo explained. “The second we came out better and had the better touch to come and win the game.”
The second half response resulted in a North Texas side that is more typical of a team coached by Pa-Modou Kah.
“Football is about momentum,” Coach Pa said. “We have a young group that are learning how to be professionals. To see that we went a goal down, there were no heads down. When it came to halftime I challenged them to step up and to go and control the game. We had the right momentum shift in the second half.”
Similar to FC Dallas’ tough win against the Colorado Rapids, North Texas didn’t have an easy game against the Rapids 2 either.
While the performance may have the team and fans wanting more from the club, the difficulty of the game is important for the young team’s growth.
“Deep down, I was a player, and I knew that they knew that things were off,” Kah said of the takeaways from the game. “It is my job as an ex-player to see that to help them. I could see in their face that they were not half. As a coach, we were looking for a second-half response and that is what we got. That is response is where the growth is.”
Winning and fighting through a tough game aids the growth of the team chemistry and mental fortitude of the young players, which is the primary focus of North Texas.
Antonio Carrera (B+) has been a rock for the club in just three games. He wasn’t challenged much and only had one save and conceded a goal that was more a good play by Colorado than the result of a single player.
Isaiah Parker (B+) and Collin Smith (B+) both created a balanced attacking duo and defense when it comes to North Texas’ flanks. They have gotten more in sync with Chase Neice (B+) and Lucas Bartlett (B+) who have come to form a stable center-back pairing. The defensive unit, while still new, is becoming more stable with each passing game.
The midfield trio of Derek Waldeck (B+), Blaine Ferri (A-), and Santiago Ferreira (A-), as a unit, have been the engine of this team. Derek and Blaine have complemented and rotated between themselves to allow Santiago the freedom to move up and create opportunities for the team.
Blake Pope (A-) adjusted well to playing as the right-winger after being the right-back in the first two games and created opportunities for his team. Bernard Kamungo (A) and Hope Avaeyavu (A) have been a consisted attacking force so far in 2022 and each found their goal as a reward for their hard work.
The substitutes (B+) each came in and replaced their counterparts to maintain a stable unit to see out the lead North Texas earned.
This came against Colorado was more about the individual pieces coming together as a team rather than the individual players having isolated moments of brilliance which is exactly what Coach Pa has been working on with his since the beginning.
North Texas SC heads back on the road to face San Jose Earthquakes II on Sunday, April 17th at 7 PM Central.