North Texas Soccer Club returned to Toyota Stadium to play FC Tucson in the 19th game of the season. North Texas SC entered this game with a one-point lead over second-place as they looked to increase that gap.

North Texas came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw that can possibly reignite the young team to the dominant form they had in the beginning of the season.

The Game

North Texas SC was hungry to regain their dominance that they had on USL League One. The buildup play had a slow tempo and North Texas was threatening at different moments. FC Tucson had different moments to set-up play in the middle of the field. The high intensity wasn’t quite the same as North Texas has displayed in the past which didn’t do them much favors when it came to asserting control on the match. FC Tucson opened the scoring thanks to a Jordan Jones header from a corner kick to send the home side down into the break.

North Texas SC came out with more energy in the second half as they looked to get a goal that could change the momentum for the team headed down the stretch of the season. It still was a slowed paced second half but in the 79th minute, David Rodriguez fed his older brother, Arturo Rodriguez, to bring the score level at one a goal apiece.

As North Texas continued to piece together the pieces to create a more and more threatening offense FC Tucson defended to prevent North Texas from scoring as both teams came away with 1-point in a 1-1 draw.

Thoughts & Takeaways

Summer Swoon?

July wasn’t a kind month to North Texas SC. After playing 4 games and coming away with 5 points, the fans, players, and coaches were all wanting a bit more. 3 of those games were played at home which included two scoreless draws and a disappointing 0-4 defeat to Greenville Triumph SC. The beginning of August hasn’t been too ideal after two games and only 1 point given that talent that the team has. So, what gives? Is the team lacking the talent needed? Have teams figured out how to play North Texas SC? No, and not really.

North Texas SC is more than good enough to play in USL League One. They have been on top of the league table all season. The roster is stocked with quality talent with players coming from the FC Dallas Academy, around the world potential stars, local talent, and FC Dallas players. The talent is present, and the players make a more than a capable team that can compete in USL League One.

Visiting teams have started to change their game plan when coming to play North Texas SC at home. The opposition has opted to play in a mid to low block rather than play more of an open game as was the case at the beginning of the season. When North Texas goes on the road, the game becomes more open as the opposition attacks and opens space for North Texas to play in.

Building Momentum

This game against FC Tucson was a game of two halves. The first half was more of a slower-paced and featured an uncertain team. The second half is where North Texas SC found their rhythm and refined some of the finer details of their game plan and their attack. Simple quick buildup passes were made that allowed North Texas to build from the defense through the midfield while keeping multiple attacking directions available. The attack became more free-flowing which was able to pull Tucson’s defense out of position in different moments of the second half. Most importantly, North Texas was able to score its first goal since July 13 and after being down for 34 minutes.

“A tale of two halves,” midfielder Edwin Cerrillo told Dallas Sports Nation. “I think the first have we were kind of scared to make that pass that could break the lines and it was too much side-to-side and too slow. We didn’t have that much speed of play and every time we play like that it’s going to be hard to break down teams when they play that mid-block and they play super compact. We got the message from coach to have the confidence to break lines and create and go forward and be more direct and that’s what we did. We created a lot of chances and if we put those chances away, we definitely [could’ve] walked out with three points.”

The finer details of playing a style that controls the game appeared in the second half of this match. In previous games, the attack suffered from making one too many touches or one too many passes causing a quality goal-scoring chance to be erased. This game suggested that North Texas is finding their rhythm again as they improved as the match progressed and didn’t fluctuate as in previous matches.

“Really disappointed in the first half performance and really pleased about the second half,” head coach Eric Quill stated. “The style of play look like it came back in the second half that we saw early on in the season. It was just guys moving the ball quicker, one and two touch and getting back on the run-in space. I’ve told them that taking five, six, seven, touches delays the timing of peoples run off of you and it’s just off. You never know when you’re going to be delivered a pass but if we all commit to one and two touches, the running and the timing of the pass into space is there. Hopefully, they realized and I got on them pretty good at halftime. You had to have seen the difference in the second half from a stylistic play.”

When taking a step back, much of the frustration and grow pain comes from the fact that everyone at North Texas SC knows that the team is capable when it comes to winning games and they all strive for excellence. The team has already been a success in the fact that Ricardo Pepi has signed a deal with FC Dallas, Imanol Almaguer has come from the Academy to North Texas SC, and the team has found players such as Bicou Bissainthe, Ronaldo Damus, Alfusainey Jatta. It has proved Academy players a different challenge that helps their development. The team is still in first place in the league and a position the club does not want to surrender

North Texas SC is about to enter one of the challenging parts of their schedule as they face the current 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place team in their next three matches. Coming away with some points will only do North Texas favors at the end of the season as they look to secure a playoff spot as well as home-field advantage.

North Texas SC’s next opponent is a road trip to Chattanooga as they face the Red Wolves for the third and final time this season on Saturday, August 17th at 6:00 PM. The game can be viewed on ESPN+.

Featured Image: North Texas SC / Jack Wallace
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