A brace from the young Anthony Ramirez was the difference in a weather-delayed match between North Texas SC and LA Galaxy II, with trialist Tomas Pondeca assisting.
Behind Ramirez, the defense was the standout performer for North Texas, as the occasionally shaky backline denied Galaxy II from even attempting a shot on target.
A few continued changes for the starting XI, as North Texas SC players such as Nolan Norris and Herbert Endeley have made recent starts for FC Dallas due to injuries. Captain Andre Costa continues at left back, with Tyshawn Rose out for the match. There were a few changes in the forward line as well.
Pondeca and Ale Urzua combined beautifully to create NTSC’s first chance of the night but it wasn’t put on target.
Half an hour into the first half, Carl Sainte earned the first yellow of the game from a late slide on a Galaxy II player. Eight minutes later he was joined in the referee’s book by Henri Santos, who earned a yellow after disagreeing with the referee regarding a foul call.
After the first 15 minutes, much of the first half was spent almost exclusively by North Texas attacking in LA’s half, little came of the first half. As the teams went into the halftime break deadlocked at zeros.
ICEBREAKER! Anthony Ramirez scored his first MLS Next Pro goal, which broke the 0-0 deadlock just a few minutes after the resumption of the second half. A beautiful finish, off the post and in, after Pondeca dispossessed an opponent and feeds it to Jose Mulato, who laid a beautiful through ball into the bath of Ramirez for the goal.
Tony two goals! A sumptuous cross into the box from Pondeca found an onrushing Anthony Ramirez who blasts it home on the volley for a two-goal lead with just over half an hour to play for the home team.
17-year-old Nayrobi Vargas continued to impress by getting a shot away after an impressive 40-yard run, holding off a defender for the entirety of it.
The second half wound to an end with each team trading yellow cards for fouls with Alejandro Araneda and Diego Hernandez going in the book for North Texas.
Another bright star for North Texas at just 17 years of age, Anthony Ramirez earned a well-deserved Man of the Match award for his brace.
Quotes and Takeaways
After some shaky finishes to games by the North Texas defense – often causing matches to go to penalties – getting a win and a clean sheet in regulation is a huge step forward for the team. The defense shut down the Galaxy II attack for nearly the entire game.
“We were focused on analyzing the last games, we concede a lot of shots… We are closing the spaces and limiting opportunities to the opponents.” Head Coach Javier Cano remarked after the match. “Today we were less vulnerable.”
Trialist Tomas Pondeca was impressive on the wing for North Texas, earning an assist on the second goal and making his coach proud “I am happy with Tomas, coming from the USA National Team in Futsal to a bigger space, he is trying to improve every day and he deserved this opportunity.”
Anthony Ramirez took both his goals very well, each being impressive and requiring plenty of composure. The anticipation on his second goal was the most impressive as the leaping Mulato assuredly took away a clear view of the ball before his foot cleanly struck through it.
“I will keep working, improving, and fighting with the team. [The win] boosted our confidence, the team was getting frustrated after a couple of draws.” Noted the young Ramirez after the match.
On his attacking line mates of Pondeca and Mulato, “It is fun playing with them, they are great players and I feel like we have a good connection on the field.”
The much-needed win ends a 4-match draw streak for North Texas who take on Portland Timbers 2 away on Saturday.