Pa Modou Kah’s men were shutout for the first time this season, as strong defense and good goalkeeping from Roman Burki, alongside a penalty and a long range effort saw the incoming MLS expansion defeat North Texas SC 2-0.
Hope Aveyevu returned to the XI after his red card suspension, along with last week’s goal scorer Tomas Lacerda in the midfield. After a brace last week, Jose Mulato started as the lone striker, with Blake Pope and Bernard Kamungo on either side.
This game was also incredibly notable as former Borussia Dortmund and Switzerland goalkeeper, Roman Burki, started in the net for St. Louis tonight.
Last week’s starlet, Collin Smith, split a triple team with a nifty bit of dribbling and earned a corner for North Texas, as their first real attack coming in the 17th minute.
As the game stopped for a hydration break, NTXSC had yet to register a shot on Burki’s net, but Antonio Carrera on the other end had let nothing past him, notching a handful of saves.
After 34 minutes North Texas earned their first shot of the match, as Blake Pope pressed the opposing midfield well and came away with the ball for a shot from outside the box, forcing Roman Burki into his first MLS NEXT Pro save.
Alejandro Urzua, a U17 player, was the first player of the match to go into the referee’s book, as he earned a yellow for stopping a St Louis counter attack.
Despite a brilliant save by Carrera that denied the home side, a penalty was awarded for a foul in the box and subsequently scored to put North Texas down a goal.
Coach Kah made a halftime substitution, as he took off the yellow carded Urzua for Andre Costa.
North Texas experienced an early let off , eight minutes after the restart. A great piece of St Louis dribbling sat a defender down but the post denied the home team from doubling their lead.
A few minutes later, the favor was returned by the woodwork on the other side, as Blake Pope rifled a shot that left the keeper only able to watch, but the post denied the young man.
Former Sporting Kansas City Homegrown midfielder, Wan Kuzain, doubled the home side’s advantage with a blast from outside the box and past Carrera.
Another well worked attack was saved by Carrera, who had been lights out on the night, notwithstanding a penalty and a top bins blast from range.
A late yellow card will prevent Collin Smith from playing next week’s match against Colorado Rapids 2.
Bernard Kamungo missed a chance at the death, which sealed North Texas’ defeat 2-0 to St Louis, which was the first time North Texas was shutout in 2022.
Thoughts and Takeaways
Coach Kah remarked after the match, “I thought [Lacerda] was fantastic…” and regarding being shutout for the first time, he said “We had multiple chances, I would have been worried if we hadn’t, the ball just didn’t fall in”
Blake Pope was a standout in North Texas’ attack, registering the two best shots of the match for the away side. Coach Kah said about the quality of the young midfielder “We know what [Pope] can posses that [quality], he’s a versatile player and we saw that at the end when he was playing left back at the end”
Collin Smith had another good match, but his yellow card means it will be a few weeks before we see him in the XI again.
St Louis is the best defensive team in the league, and when coupled with a quality keeper, a hit post, and a last minute miss, North Texas was unable to crack the home team.