North Texas Soccer Club traveled to the center of the country to face Sporting Kansas City II on Sunday night.
In spite of Sporting KC’s high press, North Texas SC scored 2 goals and secured a clean sheet for the second road win of the season.
Pa-Modou Kah made no changes to his starting XI from the Texas Derby matchup one week earlier.
Bernard Kamungo opened the scoring for North Texas in the 17th minute while getting his fourth goal of the season and was assisted by Hope Avayevu.
Jake Davis was shown a straight red card in the 44th minute for a challenge on Derek Waldeck, forcing Sporting Kansas City to 10 men for the rest of the game.
Luis Miguel replaced Jose Mulato as the first sub for North Texas in the 62nd minute.
Pablo Torre and Blaine Ferri entered for Hope Avayevu and Santiago Ferreira respectively in the 71st minute.
Pablo Torre scored the second goal from a Bernard Kamungo cross in the 76th minute.
Thomas Lacerda replaced Bernard Kamungo in the 79th minute.
North Texas SC secured a road win and clean sheet over Sporting KC 2-0.
Thoughts & Takeaways
Against the Grain
Sporting Kansas City started the game pressing North Texas high in the field. As a result of the press, North Texas was forced to sit deeper in its own half.
North Texas had to make the most of their chances when counter-attacking which is how they got their first goal. Much of their attacking success came from transitioning quickly after winning the ball.
“We are happy but not satisfied because I know that we can play better,” Costa said of the game. “We want to have more possession of the ball. We have players who when they get on the ball, can create chances.”
Basically, North Texas did “more with less” in the early frame as they finished the first half with 47% possession but registered more shots (7 to 6) and more shots on target (4 to 3). Then in the 2nd half, they took control and improved to 57.8% of the possession by the end of the game.
“The beauty of our team is that we are still in a phase where we are recognizing each other’s true strengths,” Kah said of his team. “We have difference maker’s in our team. We are a well-rounded group but we need to dig in and we are a team that shows a lot of heart and a lot of character.”
The North Texas defense had to play their most involved game as Kansas City, similarly, liked to play short quick passes in the final third.
Sporting’s quick passing required North Texas to have positional discipline and tactical awareness to prevent spaces from being created in front of the goal when players shifted positions.
The movement between players was overall fluid but still had “hiccups” when shuffling.
“Their high press was tricky and in the game, we switched it up a bit,” Costa said of North Texas’ positional game. “Our press and movements, as the game went on, got better. Especially when we pressed them, we would recover and attack directly and that is where most of the space was.
As a result of the constant shifting, the midfield trio of Derek Waldeck, Andre Costa, and Santiago Ferreira had their most involved game of the season both defensively and offensively.
Both Coach Kah and the players have mentioned that communication is key when it comes to awareness on the field between players. In this game, you can visibly see players pointing to each other and an increase in on-field communication.
Andre Costa exhibited a “box-to-box” performance characteristic of Arturo Vidal. Costa made his presence known all over the field and contributed both to the attack and defense.
“Andre Costa has been great for the last two games because he has brought in a lot of energy in the middle,” Kah said of his midfielder.
While he didn’t lead in passes completed (completing 84.4% of passes). The majority of his passes were forward passes and quick combination passes to allow his teammates to run into space. His vision and game-reading were one of the best of the players on the field.
Both Isaiah Parker and Lucas Bartlett showed tenacity to move the ball forward up the field. Parker constantly made overlapping runs down the left flank. Meanwhile, Bartlett wasn’t afraid to play a long ball to bypass lines.
North Texas SC returns home on Sunday, May 8th against Tacoma Defiance at 4 PM Central.