North Texas Soccer Club traveled to the Midwest to face Minnesota United FC 2 on Saturday night looking to lock up their spot in the standings.
North Texas made it three wins in a row against the Loons in 2022 with a 2-1 win, helping the club’s pursuit of a playoff spot.
Carl Sainte and Collin Smith returned to the starting lineup after North Texas’ shootout win over Colorado.
Bernard Kamungo continued his goalscoring streak with his 14th goal of the year giving North Texas the 1-0 lead in the 12th minute. Collin Smith was credited with an assist.
Aziel Jackson brought the game level in the 49th minute.
Bernard Kanumgo provided an assist to Isaiah Parker in the 55th minute.
Tomas Lacerda and Blake Pope entered for Jose Mulato and Jared Aguilar in the 57th minute.
Luis Miguel replaced Hope Avayevu in the 78th minute.
Nolan Norris was the final substitute for Andre Costa.
North Texas came away with the 2-1 win despite being outshot 23 to 10. NTX netminder Antonio Carrera had 8 saves on the evening.
Thoughts & Takeaways
North Texas favored attacking down the flanks and playing long balls to get forward quickly.
In doing so, the attack utilized one of the most improved aspects of the team, the combination between the fullbacks and wingers.
“We practice going down the flanks in training,” Kamungo said about playing down the flanks. “We know that we have to stay in our position and keep our position. We know that the ball will find us and that is what the coaches tell us. The ball will find us.”
If North Texas can continue to utilize its quick transition and speed along the flanks, their playoff and championship hopes will look very promising.
What hurts North Texas’ playoff chances the most is the team’s finding gaps between North Texas’ defensive lines like how Minnesota did.
With Minnesota’s playoff hopes depending on a Loon’s win, Minnesota did well to commit number forward which stretched the North Texas defensive shape.
“We know that they like to get the ball down the line and get it back into the spaces,” Vikram Virk. “We talked about the defense and prevention and that is what we needed to win. I think it came to the individual defending and commitment to solving those challenges.”
The gaps created gave Minnesota space to play in and they were quicker to progress through this space than North Texas was.
Even with the intensity that Minnesota showed, North Texas was unfazed. A good sign as the game had the level of intensity and pace seen in the playoffs.
“We have to stay professional and keep hustling to the final whistle and to the final game,” Kamungo said. “I know that at times of difficulty we have to calm down and keep hustling and sooner or later we will get the game to go our way.”
Additionally, the quick response after losing the lead was extremely critical in securing the three points while maintaining a grasp on the game.
“These are games that we as coaches and players wanted to be a part of,” Coach Vik said. “We want to play and dominate the ball but today was a different side of it. It is a maturing process for us and we are seeing different ways to manage a game.”
If the team can continue to ride the momentum through the rest of the season, North Texas is placing itself in a very comfortable position.
North Texas heads home to host St. Louis City 2 on Sunday, September 11th, at 7:30 PM.