Ronaldo Damus did it again for North Texas SC in the club’s 2020 home opener, scoring the winner for North Texas SC in El Plastico against Forward Madison. It was, perhaps, the first step to repeating as USL League One leading scorer.
Damus’ goal-scoring exploits in 2019 were incredible as he scored 15 goals in 20 games played and took home the USL League 1 Golden Boot in his first professional season.
Damus’ job is simple – put the ball in the net – and he excels at it. Let’s breakdown three tools that stand out as being critical factors in his goal-scoring.
1. Breakaway acceleration
Acceleration is vital for strikers as a striker who is second to the ball often makes the whole buildup for naught. Obviously, if they get to the ball first then they have put themselves in pole position to score.
Damus is excellent at accelerating to reach a ball on a breakaway and settling it to shoot. It is not just his top speed that impresses but his acceleration, how quickly he is able to go from jog to full sprint is truly stunning.
Against Forward Madison last season, Damus stays persistent on a deflected through ball and accelerates quickly to peel away from defenders and finish through the keeper’s legs.
Another example of his ability to accelerate away from defenders came against Lansing Ignite. Here he gets goal side on a beautiful through ball and immediately slots it away.
One final example from last season of his blistering acceleration comes against Richmond Kickers and is also the USL League One record for the fastest goal scored.
When Richard Danso first collects the ball Damus is roughly 5 yards behind the closest defender and is beginning to transition from jog to sprint (picture 1). When the ball is crossed, he is still 3 yards behind the first defender but has accelerated into a pocket of space (picture 2). He uses this space to split the defenders and nods it home (picture 3).
Damus’ acceleration coupled with runs between defenders gives him a deadly weapon in his arsenal of scoring.
2. Varied runs in behind
While the mark of a target striker is their hold up play, Damus’ style of play is quite different. Much of North Texas SC’s attack is predicated on long balls from deeper lying midfielders to get the ball forward in behind defenders to create chances. The balls in behind put an emphasis on the forwards to vary their runs in behind opponent defenses.
Damus is perfect for this role, as he is exceptional at tracking the ball and shows great foresight in regard to how plays develop.
One such example of his tracking and foresight comes against TFC 2, where he makes a secondary run underneath a Dante Sealy run.
Secondary runs are a very undervalued trait in a striker. They require a lot of foresight and positional awareness to be effective but can be deadly.
3. First Touch
A striker’s first touch is critical to their success, as a good first touch can be a springboard for success while a bad one can have fans overlook double-digit goal contributions in favor of twitter memes and, yeah, this is a not so subtle reference to Romelu Lukaku. My point being: a striker’s ability to control the ball and get it under his feet with one touch is vital.
Damus’ ability to control the ball then set it up for a shot may only be bested divisionally by his now-former teammate in Artur Rodriguez (on loan to RSL Monarchs). Damus is able to consistently trap the ball then quickly release a shot to deadly effect, as four of his goals came from outstanding first touches.
Against Richmond, he receives a well struck pass and immediately shifts from left to right with his first touch, before smashing it past the keeper with his left foot.
Against TFC 2, he chipped the onrushing goalkeeper with his first touch then fires it past a defender to score.
And in game one of 2020, Damus scored against Forward Madison with a beautiful first touch to set him up to nutmeg the goalkeeper for the game-winning goal.
Damus’ Skillet Results in Goals
These three tools, combined with his heading ability and comfort scoring with either foot, led the young Haitian to the USL-1 Golden Boot in his first professional season.
Here are all of Damus’ goals from last year.
Damus also has a new agent as of Yesterday.
He’s quick, he’s fast, and he’s got pace.
Hopefully the new agent means he can secure the move that didn’t happen the last winter. NTSC should sell him ASAP, even in the middle of the season if someone wants him during the upcoming European transfer windows. Being aggressive about moving players on and up has to be a key priority for NTSC in these first few seasons if they want to attract more and better talent in the future.