It was USL League One’s best-attacking team against League One’s best defensive team. Number one versus number two. It was North Texas Soccer Club versus South Georgia Tormenta FC. It was a hot match as the heat of the Texas summer made itself present.
It was an intense match but North Texas SC came away with a point in its second draw at home as the game ended scorelessly.
Edwin Cerrillo saw some competitive playtime since facing the Portland Timbers on June 30th. North Texas SC aimed to increase their lead in the league table to 10 points and they came out looking to get the goals. Tormenta opted to come out pressing rather than sitting deep and defend. The opening minutes were heavily contested but as the half wore on, North Texas SC took more and more control of the game. Tormenta FC, on the defense, played in a low-block which frustrated the home side’s attack.
Tormenta continued their onslaught of pressing in the middle at the start of the second half which caught the home side a little off guard. North Texas SC would regain their control on the match once again as they created more and more chances from the wing and the middle of the field. Richard Danso made his debut as he came on for Cristian Colman in the 53rd minute. North Texas SC’s shape subsequently changed into a 4-2-3-1 with Danso playing at right-wing. Dante Sealy came into the match for Tanner Tessmann in the 63rd minute of the game. This change moved Danso to the left-wing and Sealy playing as right-wing. Nil Vinyals was shown red in the 74th minute for a hard challenge on Kevin Bonilla. Moments later, Bonilla would be brought down in the box which resulted in a penalty for North Texas SC. Ricardo Pepi stepped up to take the penalty but missed wide to the right of the goal. Alfusainey Jatta was the final sub of the match in the 85th minute as he came in for Kevin Bonilla. North Texas became more and more threatening as the match wore on and had multiple attempts to open the scoring, but it wasn’t meant to be for the young professionals as the game finished 0-0.
Thoughts & Takeaways
North Texas SC came out in a new shape as they lined up in the 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield. This midfield featured Edwin Cerrillo, Imanol Almaguer, Arturo Rodriquez, and Tenner Tessmann. The movement of the ball and how the midfield coordinated with one another were interesting to watch.
Edwin Cerrillo took on the role of shielding the backline and helping move the ball up the field by either playing it up to the other three midfield players or playing a long ball to the overlapping full-backs. Arturo Rodriguez roamed up and down the field as he looked to pick up the ball and dribble forward into the attacking third where he looked to create chances. Imanol Almaguer linked the defense and the attack as he was tasked with helping Cerrillo in the defensive play but also help cycle the ball around the midfield and create opportunities. Tanner Tessmann was the traditional “10” as he stayed on top of the diamond as he looked to create chances and help ignite the attack. Despite the change in how the midfield played, the ball found itself on the left side of the field for much of the first half.
Even though North Texas SC had a good grasp on the match and was giving Tormenta FC some trouble with playing in a different style, it still was not giving them the desired result: goals. With Richard Danso being the first substitution of the match, Eric Quill opted for what has worked for his team in the past and went back to the 4-2-3-1. This change saw North Texas SC control the midfield and the ball was focused through the middle of the field.
“Well, we got good chances at the beginning and it started to look like we made the right choice but, then they got some spells of possession in the first half,” Eric Quill explained. “I think sometimes that happens when you’re not used to playing in a different formation, we only had a day to train it so, some things I liked about it. We made the change at water break and went back to the things we know, and it made it a lot easier to be in a better position to close them down.”
The change in play opened up the quality of chances that the home side had. North Texas SC finished the game outshooting their opponents 14 to 2, with 4 of those shots being blocked, and only 2 shots being on target. There was a balance on shot location with half of the shots being inside the box and the other half being outside of the box. Obviously, those statistics don’t mean much if the ball does not end up in the back of the net and North Texas SC clearly had the chances to do so.
Eric Quill has been building a competitive team that can win games all season long. The attack has been going strong for much of the season and that offensive strength is what has allowed this young team to be on top of the league table.
North Texas SC leads USL League One with 30 goals. Now, Eric Quill wants to focus on the defensive aspect and being able to keep teams from scoring and making sure that his team can close out games. In the last five games, North Texas SC has only given up 1 goal and has 4 shut-outs which suggests that the team’s defensive abilities have improved. North Texas SC is second to, you guessed it, Tormenta FC with the number of shut-outs as they have 8 to Tormenta FC’s 9. When it comes to goals allowed, North Texas SC is in third with having let 17 goals go in compared to 2nd place Greenville Triumph SC’s 13 goals and 1st place Tormenta FC’s 12 goals allowed.
The defense has limited the number of goals allowed but it hasn’t come with some moments where the opposition has seriously threatened to score. Carlos Avilez and Kyle Zobeck have both been required to make some saves to help keep goals out of the backline. While North Texas SC held off Tormenta FC from scoring, Tormenta found gaps and which gave fans a little scare. Did the focus on defense come at the expense of the attack?
“The game is cruel sometimes, you miss those chances, you miss a PK, we have nothing but ourselves to blame and look back on,” Quill stated. “But, we haven’t given up a goal in the last four games so, there’s a lot more positives than negatives.”
That didn’t seem to be the case in this match as North Texas SC took a voluminous amount of shots. That question may be something to think about as the season progresses on though it shouldn’t be much of a concern for fans. Coach Quill has got the attack going and it is the attack and goals that win you games, as long as you score more than your opponents. Now it’s a matter of really shutting out the opposition.
It was a tough draw for the young team that is still in first place with an 8-point cushion. It’s the second consecutive draw at home that did feel a bit like a loss due to the dominant performance that the team displayed.
“We’re very disappointed getting the draw but, after playing everyone in the league I feel like we are there with everyone so, that’s a good thing,” Almaguer stated after the match.
North Texas SC has already had a great season and the team has shown that they are here to compete and there will be stretches that aren’t ideal. The fact that this team is disappointed with the result given their performance speaks volume of the ideology that is established at North Texas SC.
Featured Image: North Texas SC