North Texas Soccer Club remains unbeaten so far in 2022. An accomplishment that has only been accomplished by 4 other teams in MLS Next Pro.
Coach Pa, a coach who can be described as a “Player’s Coach”, has been extremely supportive but precise about what he wants from his team. His precision has led his team to gradually improve game after game.
“The feeling is that we have done well but I know that we are capable of more and the players know that which makes it a better feeling for us knowing that we haven’t reached our top-level yet,” Coach Pa said about the start of the season. “We are striving to get better every day which is the growth that we want to see in our players.”
An aspect of the team that is getting “better every day” is in the cohesion and chemistry that is being built along the back-line. While it’s difficult to quickly build chemistry in a position that requires game-time, the North Texas defense has shown growth in its defending and build-up capabilities.
“The chemistry is coming good,” defender Chase Niece said. “We are still looking for our first shutout. That’s something that we all really want. For defenders, it’s one of the first things that you grade yourself on. We are getting better, we’re learning each other and getting more comfortable. Defending is a team effort and the back-line takes a lot of pride in it. It’s something that we are continuing to instill in our character. We have pride in defending and not giving up goals.”
“Pa asks a lot of us too and gives us a lot of responsibility to create attacking plays for our team,” Niece said of the backline’s role in the build-up phase. “Having a good shape and building up from the back and being brave to play balls into the field is important to us. We have really good players in the center-back position that are very smart and very technical and able to play good passes and make good decisions that help move the ball collectively up the field.”
Much of the growth has originated from the team gaining experience by playing competitive minutes together. This growth has been accelerated by the team’s and coaching staff’s in-game awareness and their ability to adapt during the game.
Pa-Modou Kah has spoken at great lengths to his team and the media about how football is a game of momentum. He wants his team to be able to capitalize when momentum is in their favor, and how to respond and adapt their game when the momentum changes or when it’s not in their favor.
“I think we are learning every day,” Coach Pa said. “We watch the games back, we do analysis. I think this week was very great because this week we asked the coaching staff to give us clips for the units, for the goalkeepers, defenders, the midfielders, and the strikers. We wanted to see good moments from them but also moments where we could improve and we could see that they [the players] took it in.”
“Because of that,” Kah continued, “they are starting to see why momentum in football can be cruel but also good because there are moments where we dominated. We can get the momentum by scoring and getting the momentum on the front foot is key.”
Much like the consistent growth the team has made thus far into the season, preparations for matches, be home or away, have also been consistent.
“We do the same thing. The focus is on us. The focus is on how we want to play. The focus is on what we believe we want to do every game. We’re not looking to be different home or away. We are the same team with the ambition to play great football.”