North Texas Soccer Club opened their fourth season against Minnesota United FC 2 in the inaugural season of MLS Next Pro. It took a combination of veterans and youth for North Texas SC to defeat the Loons and secure the three points in their first regular-season game of 2022.
5 players from North Texas’ 2021 squad were in the starting lineup against MSUFC2 and two former FC Dallas players Callum Montgomery and Jacori Hayes took the field for the Loons.
Antonio Carrera, FC Dallas’ most recent homegrown, got his first start between the pipes as Pa-Modou Kah had his players lineup in a 4-3-3 similar to Nico Estevez’s FC Dallas.
The opening minutes featured limited successful attacking action from both sides with Minnesota being the more threatening team in front of goal.
Derek Waldeck broke the deadlock for this first career goal and the first goal for North Texas SC in 2022.
Antonio Carrera could only be a brick wall for so long until Justin McMaster brought the game level.
Collin Smith replaced Pablo Torre as the first substitute of the evening in the 65th minute.
Minnesota United gained momentum after their first goal and forced North Texas SC onto their back foot.
Santiago Ferreira (2004), the lone FCD Academy starter, made way for FCD U19 Tarik Scott (2005) in the 73rd minute.
Scott immediately became an impact sub scoring the second goal for North Texas in the 78th minute and getting his first professional goal.
FCD U19 Will Baker (2004) and Luis Miguel substituted in for Hope Avayevu and Bernard Kamungo respectively in the 84th minute.
Tarik Scott followed up his first goal with a brace to ensure that North Texas took home the three points.
North Texas SC defeated Minnesota United FC 2, 3-1 for their first win of 2022 in the regular season.
Thoughts & Takeaways
North Texas placed plenty of emphasis on their passing and buildup play in their first game of the season.
The frequency of passes is reminiscent of “Luchi-Ball” but the intention of each pass was designed to create space and passing channels rather than looking for space and passing channels.
“I felt that we rode the momentum well in the first half and could have done a little better in the second half,” said coach Pa-Modou Kah. “We were able to recognize when to move the ball and when to go behind them to get up the field and move forward. For me, the growth is the most important and what I want to continue.”
As a result, North Texas was aggressive when switching the field and moving the ball and out-passed Minnesota 572 to 340
The most intriguing part of the passing game for North Texas is the simplicity of their game plan. Many of the passes were quick “give-and-go’s” leading to players moving forward and creating space in the midfield if the ball needed to be cycled back.
For the first game of the season, Coach Kah had his team alert and prepared to look for in-game triggers. These triggers dictated when North Texas started their press and how quickly they passed the ball on the attack.
“It was good for us because it’s another growth and learning point from the game,” Coach Kah said of his team’s ability to read the game. “We can understand when the momentum shifts how do we try to control the game. What we are going to do better is the recognition of when to allow the pressure to come to us and when to bypass the pressure. It’s good that we went through this because the biggest learning is in the game.”
When Minnesota played a back-pass during their attack, two to three North Texas players would press the Minnesota player towards the touchline, trying to win the ball back.
Similarly, on the attack, once Minnesota started to commit players forward, a wide North Texas player began their run down the flank. Meanwhile, the North Texas player, with the ball, quickly attempted to move the ball out wide or the advancing player.
North Texas SC will head to the Pacific Northwest to face Tacoma Defiance (formerly Seattle Sounders FC 2) on Saturday, April 2nd, at 9 PM Central. All matches are viewable on the MLS Next Pro’s website.