North Texas Soccer Club played against USL League One newcomers New England Revolution II in their fourth match of the 2020 season on Saturday night. After a tough draw last week – that saw North Texas SC comeback from a goal down – the FCD development club finished in another draw with both teams scoring 3 goals.
With a fourth of North Texas SC’s season complete, they currently sit in fourth place with 5 points.
FC Dallas Academy U19 Collin Smith made his first start for North Texas SC at right wing with Alex Bruce making way for Ronaldo Damus to take on the striker role. Beni Redzic returned at left wing. There was no change in the midfield for the club with FC Dallas homegrown Thomas Roberts, Imanol Almaguer, and Alisson composing the midfield trio. Juan Manuel Alvarez joined the defense on the as the right fullback next to the center-back pair of Justin Che and Brecc Evans with Derek Waldeck being the left fullback. Luis Zumudio was in net.
North Texas SC looked more comfortable with the ball and created threatening moments in the final third. The defensive play did cause concern though as New England was able to create some threatening moments.
New England desired to press North Texas SC when the home side had the ball in the defensive third. This did create some chances for the Revs. New England wanted to contain the North Texas SC attack but the visitors left too much space for North Texas SC.
It didn’t take long for North Texas SC to get on the scoreboard when Juan Manuel Alvarez played a short pass to Thomas Roberts from a short freekick. Thomas ripped the ball into the back of the net for the goal.
Nicolas Firmino was able to capitalize on a poor clearance from Luis Zamudio as he controlled the ball just outside the 18-yard box and put it past Zamudio to make the game level.
Ronaldo Damus returned the lead to North Texas SC off a header from a corner kick to grab his second goal of the season.
Juan Manuel Alvarez went down in the first half with an injury that forced Eric Quill to make his first substitution bringing in Lamar Batista. Batista took up the left center-back position, moving Brecc Evans to right center-back and Justin Che to right fullback.
Thiago Mendonca made a run down the left-flank, getting past North Texas SC’s defense, and played a short cross to Isaac Angking to make the score level.
In the 2nd half, David Rodriguez and Oscar Romero entered the game for Thomas Roberts and Collin Smith respectively.
Isaac Angking wasn’t done scoring as he received the ball just outside of the 18-yard box and was able to curl his shot into the upper-90. There was little that Luis Zamudio could’ve gone to stop the shot. Thus New England was able to take the lead for the first time in the match.
Phillip Ponder and Alex Bruce entered the game for Alisson and Beni Redzic respectively as Eric Quill urged his team to come away with a point.
In the final moments of the match, Justin Che made a run down the right-flank and played a cross into the box where Lamar Batista won the initial header and Alex Bruce put the ball into the back of the net bringing the game on level terms.
The match finished level with 3 goals for each team.
Thoughts & Takeaways
The Final third
Eric Quill mentioned that teams across the globe are having to find match sharpness in their first few games after not having a proper preseason to regain match sharpness. North Texas SC is still building up their sharpness though so there are only a few moments when the success of 2019 began to reappear.
The North Texas attack did well enough, finding space in between the Revs defense as the attack progressed up the field. This drew Revolution players out of position which created space for Roberts or another late run in front of the Revolution back-line. This created a numbers advantage for North Texas SC which, combined with quick passing, allowed North Texas to create threatening chances.
Similarly, North Texas SC did well to win turnovers and create a numbers advantage on the counter-attack. This allowed North Texas SC to change the direction of the attack, keeping the Revolution players on their toes.
While the numbers advantage was present. There were moments when the ball attack was not developed with enough speed or a player held on the ball too long or decided to dribble the ball rather than passing it. These moments show the inexperience of this team.
This isn’t a major cause of concern as these are young men making the transition to the professional game by are gaining the necessary in-game experience to make better decisions in the future.
As North Texas SC continues to become more confident in their game-plan, the team appeared more confident on the ball and played with more with a purpose.
It’s not that North Texas SC was playing without an idea or purpose previously but there was a common understanding of when a player would make a run and where the next pass would occur.
“Well we knew that the transition was going to be our strength tonight,” Eric Quill said about the quality of the attack. “When watching their video, we knew where we could hit them. I like the speed at which we got into those areas but we just didn’t have the final product. When looking at some of these chances, we could’ve had ten, it was that kind of night if we were quality in front of goal.”
North Texas SC held the majority of the possession finishing the game at 59.4%. North Texas did well at making better use of possession to create changes and move the ball forward. There was less lateral movement of the ball and the players were not afraid to switch the direction of play.
“I thought we played a really good spell of soccer for a while,” Eric Quill said about controlling the ball. “We were patient. I think maybe we got too cocky, too arrogant. Early in the second half, we had an easy chance that we missed. If we had gone three one before they went two-two, I think the game was dead, and I think they would’ve folded up shop. It’s a lesson, that keeping teams around can come and bite you.””
Additionally, movement off the ball was cleaner, creating options for the player on the ball. Even if a player ran into space and did not receive the ball, this off-ball movement forced New England to be aware of the surroundings and not just play the individual with the ball.
Eric Quill effectively has a new and young team. The average age of the starting lineup was 19.5. While the team, as a whole, had good moments and played major portions of the game well, there were small mistakes that New England was able to capitalize on that gave them their three goals.
New England is a new team and their inexperience was prevalent which gave North Texas SC plenty of space and time. As the season continues, ideally, the players for North Texas SC will learn from these mistakes.
“Tonight we played a really dynamic transitional front three and it really required our back-line to do fast running up the field to join,” Coach Quill said about his backline and the change of style. “They were dead at the end because it was a different night fitness-wise for our back four. It was more a forty-to-fifty yard night to join versus a night when you build, its a fifteen-to-twenty yard run to join. It’s something that we have to see how we can improve.”
While making mistakes and learning from them in-game can help, the coaching staff has to reiterate the principals in training and work on the areas that are coming up short for North Texas SC. One of the biggest areas of improvement for North Texas the defensive aspect of their game.
The return of Brecc Evans does help bring a familiar presence to the back-line though games are needed to really solidify and synchronize the minute aspects of each player the composes the back-line.
While North Texas SC was able to come back and recover point in this game, there are signs hinting that the players are headed in the right direction.
North Texas SC heads on the road to play against Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, August 19th, at 7:00 PM.