Texas United push on in USL League Two

As with many of our local teams in 2023, it’s a season of enormous change at Texas United ahead of Saturday’s season opener against Mississippi Brilla.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex’s sole entrant to USL’s League Two has aided the careers of several professionals in the game, with Emil Jääskeläinen, son of former Premier League goalkeeper Jussi Jääskeläinen, hoping to be among those names after eight goals in 14 appearances last year.

For 2023, in comes a host of local talent brought up in DFW’s big-name academies looking towards a pro future.

New Coach

Gone is long-time coach Arez Ardalani, who led the team to the USL League Two playoffs for the first time in 2021 before repeating the feat in 2022. Ardalani is now working with former USMNT assistant Afshin Ghotbi at Vancouver FC in the Canadian Premier League.

Texas United started the year off by announcing Dave Jacobs as Head Coach and Technical Director. Jacobs is best known locally for a 2020 stint at Midland-Odessa Sockers FC in the NPSL having served as an assistant in their 2017 run to a national semifinal, but Trine University has been Jacobs’ real success story over the past six years.

“Texas United obviously has a pretty decent reputation over the past couple of years with their capability of making the playoffs the past two years, so I’m honored to be in this role and feel like I’m blessed to be in the DFW,” said Jacobs earlier this week. “I’ve never lived here before, but love the area. I’m excited about the group of guys that we have. I think we’ve gotten quite a great response from guys that have been a part of the team in the past and maybe haven’t stuck with it.”

The Thunder were winless in 2016 prior to Jacobs’ arrival at Trine, and have gone on to post a record of 56-39-10 (.642 winning percentage) under his leadership, with an MIAA Tournament win and NCAA DIII Tournament appearance in 2021. Trine also served as part of the Indiana Hoosiers’ preparations for their College Cup win in 2022, with IU recording a 3-0 win over their only non-DI opposition.

New Venue

Texas United is on the move once again. For the 2023 season, United will call John Clark Stadium home. The Plano ISD stadium, off US 75 and Spring Creek Parkway, features an artificial surface that can withstand the type of weather conditions that plagued TX United’s home schedule in 2021.

John Clark Stadium in Plano, TX (Plano East Booster Club/YouTube)
John Clark Stadium (Plano East Booster Club / YouTube)

Same Division

Texas United remains the only team in the state not to feature in the Lone Star Division of USL-2. The Mid-South Division will stay the same as in 2023 with United having to do some traveling.

Blue Goose SCAirline High School Stadium, Bossier City LA205mi
LA Parish ACLSU Soccer Stadium, Baton Rouge LA428mi
Little Rock RangersWar Memorial Stadium, Little Rock AR312mi
Louisiana Krewe FCClark Field, Lafayette LA394mi
Mississippi Brilla FCArrow Field, Clinton MS409mi

Last season Texas United finished the regular season unbeaten with nine wins and five draws. That left them seven points clear of this year’s opening-day opponents Mississippi Brilla.

The 2023 season has already seen a couple of significant results from the early starters. Blue Goose SC has already given up 11-0 and 7-0 results to Louisiana Krewe FC and Little Rock Rangers. The Krewe also got a 4-0 win over LA Parish AC.

With Blue Goose dropping goose eggs against a couple of high scores, it’s worth pointing out that they are the only team Texas United will travel to twice as all teams play each other three times.

The great hardship for TX United will be a four-game road trip starting June 3rd in Mississippi before heading to Little Rock and Blue Goose in Bossier City, LA the following week. They’ll return to Louisiana a week later to face LA Parish AC in Baton Rouge.

Coach Jacobs is confident that his roster can handle the mental and physical toll. “It’s the way the schedule shook up this time round, we’ll just deal with it,” said Jacobs. “We feel we’ve got the depth available for rotating this squad and properly resting guys when we need instead of relying on the same XI in every game.”

New Players

Coach Jacobs isn’t a Metroplex coach with an eye on the local academies week in and week out, and you’d find that difficult to believe with the roster he’s assembled.

One of last year’s standouts, John Paul Jordan, and former Sporting KC II midfielder Bailey Sparks both return. The two Solar products are Juniors at SMU, which was key to Jacobs’ recruitment.

Seth Wilson, Bailey Sparks, Joshua Ramsey, and Jonathan Tomkinson with the US U17s at the 2019 Nike Friendlies.
Seth Wilson, Bailey Sparks, Joshua Ramsey, and Jonathan Tomkinson with the US U17s at the 2019 Nike Friendlies.

“When we held the first tryout in January, I was pretty focused on getting the best talent from the DFW so I went after every [NCAA] division one roster and found who are the best Dallas kids in the college soccer, and I went after every single one of them. I think I did pretty well getting the majority of them.”

With Jordan and Sparks, and Luis Sahmkow (Pitt), Solar’s representation is well matched by local rivals FC Dallas. Bryce Boneau (Notre Dame) – who switched from blue to red for his U-19 season – will line up in the midfield. Slade Starnes (Furman) and Malik Henry-Scott (Tulsa), who have both featured on Buzz’s academy hot lists, are in. The already-well-traveled Seth Wilson (Akron) joins as does former FC Dallas and Tigres man Diego Latyaf (Georgetown).

Without Jääskeläinen and the influential Pol Monells, there’s still a strong European streak in the team. Fellow Spaniard Sergio Ors (WVU) and Frenchman Clarence Awoudor (Oregon State) are two of several overseas signings for the USL-2 season.

Texas United’s season kicks off on Saturday night with a 7 pm start against Mississippi Brilla FC at John Clark Stadium.

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