In the first edition of the Texas Derby at the MLS Next Pro level, North Texas Soccer Club hosted the Houston Dynamo 2 in a battle for first place. The home side suffered their first loss in 2022 against their rivals 2-3.
Pa-Modou Kah made a couple of changes to his previous starting lineup. Jose Mulato made his first start while Andre Costa appeared in the midfield. Isaiah Parker returned as the left-back while Felipe Carneiro replaced Antonio Carrera (national team duty).
Andre Costa made the most of his first start by scoring the opening goal in the 17th minute and was assisted by Jose Mulato.
Houston didn’t take long to respond with a free-kick goal in the 21st minute from Diego Gonzalez.
Houston gained the lead from an unfortunate deflection right before halftime thanks to Jon-Talen Maples.
Blaine Ferri was the lone substitute at half-time coming in for Santiago Ferreira.
Jose Mulato got his first goal with North Texas SC in the 55th minute to bring the game level while being assisted by Hope Avayevu.
Hope Avayevu made way for Luis Cardoso in the 66th minute.
Blake Pope, Chase Niece, and Pablo Torre replaced Andre Costa, Paul Amedume, and Jose Mulato respectively in the 75th minute.
Houston regained the lead from a Roberto Avila goal in the 84th minute.
North Texas SC suffered its first loss of 2022 against Houston 22-3.
Thoughts and Takeaways
North Texas played one of their most intense games when it came to moving up the field.
Bernard Kamungo and Hope Avayevu have been quietly consistent so far in 2022. Both players have started two combining with interior players and are not afraid to start cutting from the wings.
Jose Mulato and Andre Costa grabbed much of Houston’s attention. Mulato has the ability to see the game one to two plays ahead. While Mulato’s reading of the game was excellent the pass to unlock the attack was not always accurate.
“I think Jose [Mulato] was excellent,” Kah told 3rd Degree. “There is more in him and there is more to come. Andre [Costa] showed his skill and he scored the goal.”
Andre Costa roamed much of the field trying to get in position to carry the ball forward or play the ball up the attack. Costa’s presence centrally drew Houston defenders onto him allowing Derek Waldeck or Santiago Ferreira / Blaine Ferri to move up the field.
Keeping with Pa-Modou Kah’s theme that football is a game of momentum, North Texas had to manage Houston’s counter-attack, press, and passing game.
In this game, North Texas didn’t stick to one game plan. The beginning of the game featured lots of quick movement up the field with long balls. North Texas then transitioned to quick passing with through-balls.
I felt like we needed to get more touches on the ball,” Costa explained after the game. “We needed to move it around with more speed. We were kinda slow and not communicating. There were stretches when we were slow and didn’t have the ball it had a chain effect.”
Defensively, North Texas had moments of high pressing while at other times, they sat deeper and absorbed Houston’s attack.
“We had the game plan. We did what we were supposed to but we gave away critical found in critical places but that is the learning that the players have to go through.”
With respect to the team’s development, having the ability to switch tactics during the game is a big step forward.
It was a matter of time before North Texas suffered its first loss of the season. What makes the loss hurt more is that it came against their Texas Derby rivals.
It’s not entirely that North Texas was outplayed by Houston, but rather a simple mistake gave Houston the opportunity to take the lead.
“We slowed down a bit and we brought them back into the game,” Kah said after the game. “That’s something that cant happen. I think we let ourselves down more than the opposition did.”
In the long term, the loss is good for the team’s growth as Kah, being a players coach, can use this loss as a learning opportunity and springboard for the rest of the season.
North Texas SC will head on the road up north to face Sporting Kansas City II on Sunday, May 1st, at 7 PM CT.