North Texas Soccer Club went on the road to take on USL League One newcomers Union Omaha. After being delayed just over an hour due to inclement weather, both sides were able to play in front of eager Omaha fans who were excited to see their new team. North Texas SC was shutout and fell to a lone goal for their first loss of the 2020 season.
Eric Quill made no changes to the starting lineup for his first road trip of 2020. The bench featured the return of Imanol Almaguer to the game-day roster.
North Texas played vertically and emphasized buildup play along the back-line. Both fullbacks attempted to get high up the flanks while providing support for the midfield and attack. More of the attacking play was directed through the midfield with the intention of playing the ball into space. North Texas SC was also not afraid to switch the direction of play while moving the ball up the field.
Union Omaha came out with a high press and quick passing in the final third. The weather delay did not dampen the mood for the homeside nor their fans as Omaha came out in full force in both halves. Omaha’s quick passing in the final third did cause the new North Texas backline some troubles which were only compounded by the soaked field. The counter attack did prove to be successful for Omaha on multiple occasions.
Union Omaha found the first goal of the game after 74 minutes on a counter attack. Evan Conway gave the home-side their first home-goal after receiving the ball from the right flank and slotting it past Luis Zamudio.
Imanol Almaguer saw the field for the first in 2020 as he came in for Juan Manuel Alvarez. Coach Quill later substituted David Rodriguez and Grady Easton off for Gibran Rayo and Pedrinho ‘Cuadrado’ Alves respectively as his side looked to tie up the game. Academy player Collin Smith came in for Alex Bruce as a source of fresh legs to keep the Omaha back-line on their toes.
The lone goal for Union Omaha was enough for the Owls to take the full three points and secure the shutout against North Texas SC.
Thoughts & Takeaways
Losses Are Good?
Rarely does a loss truly indicate that one side was better than the other. North Texas SC’s second game falls into this category.
While North Texas SC had only 2 shots on target in comparison to the Owl’s 6 shots, Eric Quill’s team had 61.8% possession, had a 51.5% duel success rate, 57.1% aerial duels won, 71.7% pass accuracy, and 389 passes to Omaha’s 229.
It was clear what Coach Quill’s vision and style is and regular North Texas SC viewers and FC Dallas fans are familiar with this style of play: develop play along the back-line, work the ball up the field, make quick passing combinations to break the opposition lines, and create and finish quality goal-scoring opportunities.
The heavy downpour before the game did make the passing game difficult for both teams. Union Omaha overcame this difficultly by having individual players carry the ball down the field with speed. North Texas SC’s solution was to switch the direction of play and send balls into space for an attacking player.
While the Owl’s lone goal came from a mistimed tracking of Conway, the score doesn’t suggest that North Texas SC was entirely shut-out. A combination of the on-field conditions with Omaha’s high press gave the young North Texas SC squad less time to think about how they would develop play.
The FC Dallas Academy is hailed as one of the best (if not the best) in the country and these players are used to having time and space on the ball. At the professional game, the time players have to think is shorter and this proves to be a great learning moment not only for the academy players but some of the new faces to the team. North Texas SC did well to hold out on there own and stay competitive throughout the match and making every effort to find an equalizer.
A New Team
Eric Quill effectively has a new team this year. Yes, there are some players from last season but only 2 (Ronaldo Damus and David Rodriguez) players with 2019 experience started with 2 more (Imanol Almaguer and Gibran Rayo) came off the bench.
The Owls are new to the league so there is little film on the new team.
Coach Quill knows that teams will try to play their best game against the reigning League One champions and no game will be an easy one. For a team that features young players with the goal of developing talent for the first-team (FC Dallas), these players are being exposed to new and unfamiliar situations.
The most obvious change within the team is the back-line, though, defender Brecc Evans has been recalled on his loan which can help bring some familiarity back to the team.
The new backline is built with Lamar Batista and Grady Easton being the two center-backs. Draft pick Derek Waldeck has taken over the left-flank while former forward and winger Justin Che has transitioned to covering the right-flank in the first two games despite having been a center back in the Academy.
The situation is the same in the midfield and front-line with newcomers Alisson and Juan Manuel Alvarez slotting along with David Rodriguez in the midfield and Alex Bruce and Beni Redzic.
Fans could’ve possibly been spoiled with the strong start that North Texas SC made in 2019 but there is no need to worry. The players weren’t entirely outperformed and Eric Quill and his staff has demonstrated that they are capable of bouncing back and refocusing the team. Quill has used moments like these as teaching tools and he himself has grown as a coach over the last season and has learned how to respond from matches like these.
While the result didn’t go in North Texas SC’s favor, the intensity of the young team was admirable. Credit must be given to the quality of play by Union Omaha who did well to respect their opponent by playing with equal intensity to the final whistle.
North Texas SC will return home to play Chattanooga Red Wolves SC on August 8th, at 8:00 PM at Globe Life Park.