North Texas Soccer Club played the first of two consecutive road games on Sunday afternoon, this one against North Carolina FC. It was the final meeting between the two this season.
North Texas SC got a lone goal which was enough to secure the three-point road win and end a 7 game winless streak.
Kazu returned to the starting lineup on the wing along with Imanol Almaguer in the midfield. Lucas made his first start next to Caiser Gomes. Richard Sanchez was back between the posts. MLS’ers Freddy Varagas – who couldn’t travel to Vancouver due to visa issues – and Kalil ElMedkhar were in the NTX lineup.
Nicky Hernandez put North Texas on the board with a rocket of a shot from outside of the box in the 41st minute.
Gibran Rayo replaced Kalil ElMedkhar in the 67th minute.
Mikey Maldonado, Devin Benton, and Mark Salas replaced Blaine Ferri, Kazu, and Lucas respectively.
Hope Avayevu was the last substitute for Derek Waldeck in the 90’+4′ minute.
North Texas SC secured the three points and a road win by a 1-0 score.
Thoughts & Takeaways
Coming off of a 7 game winless streak, North Texas is looking to build momentum for their playoff push.
Typically starting games off with intensity, North Texas deviated from this style and were more patient when attacking up the field. This allowed North Carolina to have more of the ball and progress higher up the field.
With North Carolina moving higher up the field, this allowed North Texas to counter-attack with the extra space. While attacking, emphasis was placed on moving the ball up the field with numbers in the attack.
The frequency of passes was reduced but a greater purpose was placed when passing between players to create scoring opportunities.
Having struggled to close out games, North Texas played there, arguably, the best final 20 minutes of the game all season against North Carolina.
While the game wasn’t the most dominant from North Texas, the ability to see out a game with a one-goal lead is a big momentum boost.
With the road win and a “grind-it-out” mentality, North Texas is turning a corner and controlling their own playoff fate.
North Texas has 30 points through 23 games and sits in 6th place with 5 games remaining in the season. North Texas is back on the road to face FC Tucson on Saturday, October 2nd, at 10 PM.