North Texas SC signs two Homegrown eligible players

North Texas Soccer Club has announced the signing of two Homegorn eligible players for 2020: Gibran Rayo and Philp Ponder. Ponder is a senior from SMU and Gibran Rayo is a current Academy U19.

Prior to the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, I wrote that FCD should sign Ponder to exactly this kind of deal. And back in October, I suggested Rayo be signed for North Texas as well, although I thought they might wait for May.

Philip Ponder

NCAA Soccer Tournament round of 16 game between SMU and UCF at Westcott Field
SMU defender Philip Ponder (3) passes the ball in the second half of the NCAA Soccer Tournament round of 16 game between SMU and UCF at Westcott Field.

Ponder is a 6-0 senior center back at SMU. A former Academy player, Ponder was a two and a half year starter for the Mustangs. Career: 50 games, 45 starts, 5 goals, 1 assist. He was also a member of FC Dallas’ back-to-back DA Championship side that took the 2016 U18 title and the 2015 U16 title along with Reggie Cannon and Eddie Munjoma.

Ponder, while never winning conference accolades, was a key defensive piece for the Mustangs over the last few years. He helped led the Ponies to 11 shutouts this year and the best record in school history.

In years past, Ponder is the kind of player who might have landed a Homegrown deal (see Cano, Jordan). But with the crowded FCD roster, North Texas SC is a better fit. Ponder easily has the talent for a USL career and with some polish could step up to MLS at some point.

Name: Philip Ponder
Pronunciation: Pawn-der
Position: Defender
DOB: February 23, 1997 (22)
Birthplace: Denton, Texas
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
Height: 6-0
Weight: 170
Nationality: United States
Last Club: Southern Methodist University
How Acquired: Signed on Jan. 15, 2020

Gibran Rayo

Gibran Rayo (in red) playing for North Texas SC against Forward Madison in 2019. (Courtesy North Texas SC).

Current Academy U10 Gibran Rayo is the first Academy player to sign a North Texas SC contract for 2020. According to his DA profile, he graduates this May. An attacking mid, wing, or forward; this is Rayo’s third season as a U19 as he played up with the 19s while still U17 eligible in the 2016-2017 season. In his three seasons at the U19s Rayo has scored 22 goals in 67 games and 55 starts.

Rayo has been contributing to North Texas SC as well, making 12 appearances and 4 starts with 1 goal and 8 key passes in 2019 as an amateur.

Rayo has, over the last few years, been one of the most frequent MLS training invitees from the Academy. He’s blessed with tons of soccer tools and can easily keep up with MLS training yet he’s never quite turned into the dominant Academy player one might expect. That makes him an ideal player for a North Texas SC contract over college where high-level coaching and training might be able to unlock his potential.

Name: Gibran Rayo
Pronunciation: Jih-brawn Rye-oh
Position: Forward
DOB: October 14, 2001 (18)
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Height: 5-8
Weight: 150
Nationality: United States
Last Club: FC Dallas Academy
How Acquired: Signed on Jan. 15, 2020

Gibran Rayo All-Touch video from the game he scored against Richmond Kickers

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