For the fourth and final time of 2021, North Texas Soccer Club faced off against the Chattanooga Red Wolves SC having yet to win against the league leaders this season.
It came to the last minute of the match for the Red Wolves to end North Texas’ 9-game unbeaten streak by a score of 1-0.
Collin Smith started higher in the field as the right-winger while Mikey Maldonado was tasked with being the right-fullback. Kazu and Nicky Hernandez returned to the attack and midfield respectively. Collin Shutler, Derek Waldeck, and Mark Salas were part of the returning faces to the backline.
Chattanooga started the half with early chances on goal which North Texas was able to fend off. As the match wore on, North Texas was able to find their rhythm and nearly scored from their own opportunities.
In spite of the early chances, North Texas and the Red Wolves ended the first half scoreless.
Devin Benton replaced Blaine Ferri at halftime.
Collin Smith made way for Gabriel de Morais in the 61st minute.
Hope Avayevu was introduced for Nicky Hernandez in the 76th minute.
Alex Bruce and Rio Ramirez were the last substitutes for Kazu and Derek Waldeck respectively.
It took stoppage time, yet again, for a result to be made as Jimmie Villalobos got the winning goal to secure all three points for Chattanooga.
Thoughts & Takeaways
In a near repeat to North Texas’ previous encounter with the Red Wolves, Chattanooga wanted to attack after turnovers of possession. With the speed and ability to commit numbers, the Red Wolves found early success that threatened the North Texas backline
While North Texas plays with speed in their passes, Chattanooga defended deep and would begin to press when the ball was in the North Texas defensive third.
By defending in such a manner, Chattanooga was able to take advantage of North Texas’ tendency to quickly move players higher up the field, leaving fewer numbers for the Red Wolves to counter-attack against.
North Texas has grown defensive and in the attack but the ability to win transitions during games hasn’t grown at the same rate in comparison.
With Chattanooga being quick to counter-attack North Texas had to play a more defensive game than accustomed to.
The Red Wolves were most threatening when they first got possession and quickly progressed up the field. Over the course of the game, the North Texas backline adopted a flatter shape with the fullbacks playing more in line with the center-backs to stay in front of the ball and players.
Additionally, North Texas did well to limit any forward progression through the middle forcing the opposition to play the ball out wide. In contrast to the last game, Chattanooga was able to quickly move players into space causing the North Texas defense to constantly change their shape.
Even with the shape change, there were moments when the response was not as quick to adapt to the speed at which the Red Wolves’ offense was changing.
North Texas has 26 points through 20 games and sits in 6th place. North Texas SC goes back on the road to face South Georgia Tormenta FC on Saturday, September 11, at 7 PM.