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North Texas SC took on 3rd place Lansing Ignite FC at Toyota Stadium as they looked to increase their lead on top of the table. The game was delayed thanks to a Texas storm, but things eventually got kicked off at 8:10 PM. North Texas SC came away with a 3-1 win to put them 4 points clear at the top of the league table.

The Game

North Texas was able to have a full 18-man roster for the first time since NTSC played Forward Madison at home back on May 22. NTSC preferred to build out of the back and attack heavily down the flanks utilizing the skill and pace of Arturo Rodriguez and Ronaldo Damus. Tanner Tessmann was tasked with creating chances while Alfusainey Jatta and Imanol Almaguer held the midfield down while linking the defense and attack. While there were little notable events individual players put on solid performances such as Imanol Almaguer, Brecc Evans, and Jonathan Gomez.

The second half was where North Texas SC found their old self again when they had quick passing and a high commitment of numbers in the attack. Callum Montgomery opened the scoring off his initial header towards goal that found his way back to him, allowing him to put the ball away.

Dante Sealy came in for Cristian Colman who is finding his rhythm after coming back from injury. Arturo Rodriguez doubled the score on the counter-attack and from a well-timed and placed pass from Jonathan Gomez.

Two minutes later, Ronaldo Damus scored his ninth goal of the season thanks to a splitting ball from Jonathan Gomez who earned his second professional assist.

Oscar Romero came in for Alfusainey Jatta as the second sub of the evening while Cesar Murillo came in for Ronaldo Damus as the final sub of the evening. Lansing Ignite would go on to score their lone goal from Pato Botello as the match finished 3-1.


Thoughts & Takeaways

Adaptability

This was a game of two halves. The first half was slow and tested the patience of fans who knew what North Texas SC is capable of. There was free movement of players which gave the appearance of a very flexible formation that suggested little stability. Lansing Ignite continued to press which exposed weak points in the team shape.

“I’m proud of the guys. It’s the third game in eight days so we’re tired but I wanted a more fluid performance,” Quill told Dallas Sports Nation (DSN).  “I thought we had some spells of really good stuff and some spells of not so good stuff. There wasn’t a consistency throughout the game that I felt like we were on top of them. Credit to Lansing, they made it hard for us, they fought and had a real fighter’s mentality that disrupted us and came and pressed us and put us under. We didn’t do well enough with the press in a lot of areas so those are things we got to work on because we want to play out of the back and we can’t be flustered and we can’t lose control at the end of the games. We want to be in control all the time. I’m proud because in the second half we came out and sort of changed our press a little bit and found the ball more and score the three goals we needed so that was a good second half performance that came through and I’m proud of the boys’ mentality.”

The second half saw the return of the style and intensity that fans have become accustomed to with North Texas SC. The team shape became sturdier and there was an intensity that was missing in the second half. The midfield was able to control the tempo of the game and the attack was much more fluid.

Final Touches

North Texas SC got the win but for the players and Eric Quill, there are still things that need to be worked on. Improving on these attributes will allow the team to be a truly consistent dominate team in this league.

As the players made their way back to the locker room and interacted with club leadership and ownership, there was a jovial mood as normal. Though a couple of players, especially the defense and Zobeck, all mentioned the same things: wanting to get the shutout.

“I think we shouldn’t have taken our foot off the pedal because we allowed them to sort of swing back moment and they got the goal and after that, the game kind of opened up,” Evans explained. “That’s something as a collective we need to work for sure. That will leave a sour taste in our mouth, conceding that goal at the end, but other than that I think it was a solid performance.”

Closing out games comes down to reading what the match presents and executing a plan that can close out a game in your favor. Eric Quill is teaching these young professionals that scoring more goals than your opponent is not enough for his liking and to make it as a quality professional. He wants his young professionals to be well-rounded and complete players.

Individual Players

Imanol Almaguer played as a “6” alongside with Jatta while Tanner Tessmann played as 10. Despite having more of a defensive role, Almaguer was everywhere on the field and contribute to all aspects of the game.

Imanol Almaguer Charts
Photo: USL League One

While normally playing in the defense, Almaguer didn’t find it that difficult playing in a different position. “It was fun, me and Jatta, I think we maintained the unit pretty well and it’s just another challenge for me playing in the midfield and I think I did pretty good,” he told DSN. “I mean, it’s just discipline. Wherever I play I just give my best and try to prove to coaches that I can play anywhere.”

If it weren’t for Jonathan Gomez’s two assists, Almaguer could’ve been the man of the match. Speaking of Gomez, the young left-back looked very comfortable taking on attackers and not shying away from the physical and chippy aspect of the game. He got forward and was an option when North Texas wanted to bypass the midfield. This showed with his two assist and 5 chances created (the most of any player in the game). He had the vision to find his players and the skill to execute two well-weighted balls into the feet of the Rodriguez and Damus for their respective goals.

Cristian Colman is now seeing game time as he makes his way back from his knee injury. Colman played 65 minutes and had a few moments where he directly impacted the match. While still lacking the clinical finishing needed for a forward, Colman is getting the repetition needed after an injury.

“He got 60 [minutes] in the first game and 65 [minutes] tonight so we are building him slowly,” Quill informed DSN. “He shows some signs of a high-level player. [He was] not clean enough which is to be expected. He got in some good areas and kind of fumbled a little on the ball and broke down a little technically. I told him at half-time, ‘You need to build a bigger cardio base. You got to push yourself now to grow into your fitness. You can’t be one of those, I get tired so I’m going to stop running. That’s how you grow on your fitness level, I’m tired, I got to make another sprint.’ That’s the biggest thing is to grow his cardio capacity and find his cleanliness which he will find the more and more he trains and plays in games and so I don’t worry about that. He makes really, really smart runs off the shoulders of people. He got in some good areas. If he was a little cleaner in a couple areas, he would’ve scored a couple of goals.”

While it may be easy to critique the quality of Colman’s finishing, patience will be key for the 25-year old striker. One of the most difficult hurdles for a player coming back from injury is the mental game and overcoming the hesitation to make a hard turn or a shot that really tests a player’s knee and leg (in the case of Colman). Colman did make create 3 chances equaling Arturo Rodriguez and tying for 2nd most out of North Texas. Colman did play heavy passes to his teammates what limited the number of successful chances he did create, and one hopes that his quality of passing improves with more repetition and game time.


With the USSDA (U.S. Soccer Development Academy) Playoffs coming to an end (as of publication, FC Dallas U-18’s are in the semifinals) Eric Quill will have a have the players needed to fill an 18-man roster along with not being limited to the personnel that he has. Quill and the players will look to regain the large cushion they had at the top of the table.


North Texas SC returns to USL League One play against Greenville Triumph SC on Sunday, July 7th at 8:45 PM. The game can be viewed in person at Toyota Stadium (which this team really should be viewed live and in person) right after FC Dallas’ friendly match against Oscar Pareja and his Tijuana Xolos.

Featured Image: North Texas SC
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