North Texas Soccer Club traveled out west in search of three points against FC Tucson on Saturday. Sparked by the return of 2019 USL League One MVP Arturo Rodriguez, North Texas SC earned their first win since week one.
Despite earning only their second win of the season, NTX is only 6 points out of the 2nd spot in the 2020 USL-1 Final.
Rodriguez and newcomer Nicky Hernandez made their first starts with North Texas SC in 2020. The return of Alisson to midfield and the insertion of Hernandez as a linking-8, allowed Justin Che to move to his natural center-back position while Imanol Almaguer played as the right full-back.
Giovanni Ramos Godoy was penalized for a handball in the box which resulted in Ronaldo Damus converting the penalty to give North Texas SC the first goal in the 61st minute.
Beni Redzic and Kevin Bonilla were subbed in for Gibran Rayo and Almaguer respectively in the 64th minute.
Redzic made his impact when he dribbled the ball into the box and crossed the ball across the face of goal for Collin Smith to score the second goal of the game.
Smith was eventually subbed out for Alex Bruce while Rodriguez went off for his brother David Rodriguez in the 89th and 90th+3′ minutes respectively.
Thoughts & Takeaways
North Texas SC’s transitions were something that viewers typically don’t see in USL-1: quick to defense and slower to attack.
FC Tucson prefers to counter-attack and exploit their opponent’s mistakes to their advantage. Coach Eric Quill, aware of FC Tucson’s style, set up his team in a low to mid-block to protect the NTX goal by limiting Tucson’s forward passes and denying them any space in behind.
On the attack, North Texas SC was patient in their buildup play and probed forward while not conceding space to their opposition.
For a team that has struggled defensively as a unit, FC Tucson provided a test to North Texas SC regarding their ability to defend quickly.
Since FC Tucson desires to exploit the gaps between lines and move the ball quickly up the field, Quill also had his team slow down the game.
Slowing the game forced FC Tucson to hold the ball closer to their goal and work through all eleven North Texas SC players. This put Tucson in an uncomfortable position as they had to build and create opportunities.
Though once North Texas SC gained the lead, they had the freedom to move forward with numbers which increased the tempo at which the match was played, again, putting FC Tucson in an uncomfortable situation.
Coach Quill has done well at changing the way his team plays after halftime.
This is evident in the quick transitions from defense to attack, the increased tempo of the game, and forward passing.
Quill adjusted his team tactics to be more aggressive going forward and to play balls into space and break the Tucson lines which created opportunities and lead to both goals.
A-Rod – the creative force for North Texas SC – adopted a more central role and orchestrated the attack going forward. This resulted in 4 chances created by Rodriguez.
North Texas earned a much-needed win after struggling the first half of the season. The club sits in 7th place with 10 points through 8 games.
North Texas SC has made it to the halfway point of the season and realistically still has a shot of making the playoffs being 6 points behind 2nd place.
The Los Torolitos returns home to play against FC Tucson on Saturday, September 19th, at Globe Life Park.