The first season in North Texas Soccer Club’s history has ended and what a season it has been for the team. With the conclusion of the season, it’s time to look at how the players have done, review, and grade their performance.
Last week, we took a look at the goalkeepers, this week we’ll move up the pitch and take a look at the defenders.
Kevin Bonilla // B+
Bonilla was one of a number of academy players that played for NTSC over the course of the 2019 season. Of all these players who are yet to sign any kind of contract, either with FCD or NTSC, Bonilla played the most minutes at 1,092. Bonilla can play both left and right-back but he was most often deployed as a right-back, typically when Bryan Reynolds was with the first team. The 18-year-old made the most of his appearances and never looked remotely out of place at the USL League One level, making 13 starts in 14 appearances during the season.
Bonilla is still eligible to play with the U19 Academy team, he split time between NTSC and the U19s through the course of the season but it would be surprising to see him continue to play too much more often with the U19s going forward. Bonilla seems like a very obvious NTSC signing for the winter offseason but Bonilla obviously has a choice to make between signing that contract and pursuing a college career. He will be one to keep an eye on over the course of the offseason.
Brecc Evans // A
The NTSC captain played the second-most minutes over the course of the season, second only to USL League One MVP Arturo Rodriguez, and started 24 out of the 28 games. The 20-year-old spent a season in college soccer with Cal Poly before signing with NTSC before the season.
Evans was nothing short of a rock at the back for NTSC, who had the third-best defensive record in the league in 2019. Evans offered some stability in a lineup that was constantly changing with players moving up from the academy and moving down from the first team. He led the team in interceptions and was very much a cerebral leader at the back, dictating the build-up of the team and helping them dominate possession.
Evans’s future with the club is a bit up in the air. Surely, he will be in the mix for a potential FC Dallas contract based on how he performs in the preseason but a loan to a USL Championship side might also be in the cards if Evans is deemed not quite ready for the MLS roster. Like many of the defenders, his progress leading into the 2020 season will be very interesting to track.
Jonathan Gomez // A-
A- might seem like a very high grade for a player that only made 9 appearances over the course of the season, but the 16-year-old (who was 15 for most of the season) looked a class above the competition in those 9 appearances. Similar to Bonilla, Gomez has not yet signed any kind of contract with NTSC or FC Dallas, though considering his level of performance, it would be a huge surprise to not see him sign a deal in this offseason.
Gomez’s performances also caught the eye of USYNT scouts and he was called up for a U-16 national team in September. If Gomez’s trajectory continues, he will be a massive asset for the club over the next few years and if the club can hold on to him and convince him to stick around Frisco instead of making a move abroad, like his brother Johan did, they could be holding on to a future national team level talent at left-back.
Héctor Montalvo // C+
Montalvo had an interesting journey to NTSC, joining the FC Dallas academy as a 15-year-old before spending a year being coached by former FCD manager Schellas Hyndman. Following that one season at GCU, Montalvo made a move down to Mexico with Tigres, making 11 appearances for their reserve team in 2017 and 2018 before joining NTSC before the 2019 season. Montalvo played sparingly in 2019, only starting 3 games and making 5 appearances total.
There hasn’t been an official release by the club to this point about postseason roster decisions for NTSC, but Montalvo announced on his social media that he was leaving the club and seeking opportunities elsewhere in 2020. At 21 years old, Montalvo is almost a bit too old for NTSC with the current roster make up, so the decision to let him go shouldn’t come as a major surprise. Hopefully, Montalvo can find a new home and progress his career in 2020.
Callum Montgomery // A
The British Columbia native was selected as the 4th overall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft but did not make an appearance for the FCD first team in 2019, spending the majority of the season playing for NTSC. Montgomery made 22 appearances, all starts, in 2019 and formed a formidable partnership at the back with Brecc Evans. While Evans was the more cerebral of the pair, Montgomery was the physical presence, leading the team in clearances, blocks, and aerial duels won. Montgomery was also a presence in the opposition box, contributing 3 goals over the course of the year.
At this point, Montgomery is really too good for the USL League One level. His passing and ability on the ball are what is keeping him from making the jump into competing for minutes with the first team, he’ll be another one to watch during the preseason to see how he can try to make a mark and establish himself with the first team. If he can’t quite get there, it wouldn’t be a shock to see FCD send him on loan to a USL Championship side to get him minutes against a higher level of competition.
Cesar Murillo // B
At 23 years old, Murillo was one of the oldest players on the NTSC roster for the 2019 season. The El Paso native had a college career at Charleston prior to signing with NTSC prior to the start of the season. Murillo was similar to Montalvo in that he was used sparingly and was a depth defender, making 7 starts and an additional 6 substitute appearances, typically being brought on at the end of games to help see out victories.
Murillo will be an interesting player to keep an eye on, he certainly didn’t stand out over the course of the season but he appeared often enough to make a place for himself on the team. With Callum Montgomery and Brecc Evans potentially in line for time with the first team or loans to USL Championship sides, Murillo may be one to step into a larger role for NTSC in 2020. That being said, he’ll be 24 years old by the start of the season so it will also be interesting to see how the club handles players that are seemingly “aging out” of NTSC.
John Nelson // A
Another first-round SuperDraft pick in 2019, Nelson split time between the first team and NTSC, making 7 appearances, all starts, for NTSC in 2019, mostly in the second half of the season. Similar to Jonathan Gomez, this grade may seem a bit high for someone making so few appearances, but Nelson demonstrated that he was clearly a class above the USL League One level in his 7 appearances, routinely shutting down opposing wingers and bombing down the flank regularly.
It would be surprising to see Nelson make any more than a small handful of appearances for NTSC in 2020 as he will be looking to push on and make a meaningful impact and contribution to the first team in MLS play where he also looked highly capable. His progress in the offseason, especially with the potential departure of Reggie Cannon, will be yet another storyline to follow in the preseason.
Bryan Reynolds // A
Similar to Nelson, Reynolds split time between the first team and NTSC over the course of the 2019 season, though he spent more time with NTSC, making 12 appearances, all starts, in the regular season. The 18-year-old played at right-back for NTSC and was the first choice in the spot when he was made available. The 18-year-old heir apparent to Reggie Cannon was excellent in USL League One play, contributing defensively and even adding a goal to his contributions going forward.
Reynolds’ future with NTSC is highly dependent on what happens with Reggie Cannon in the offseason. If Cannon is sold, Reynolds will almost certainly spend the entire season with the first team but if Cannon is still around, Reynolds may see some further time with NTSC to continue to get meaningful playing time. Either way, Reynolds is one to watch for the future.
Nico Carrera and Julian Hinojosa // Incomplete
Carrera and Hinojosa both only made a single sub appearance during the season. Hinojosa has, for now, left the club and moved onto college soccer with North Carolina. Carrera, who recently was a part of the US U17 team at the U17 World Cup, is still with the club. With the departure of Montalvo and the uncertain futures (with NTSC) of Evans and Montgomery, Carrera may be a potential NTSC signing, or even an FCD homegrown signing, for the 2020 season. Even if he does not sign, assuming he doesn’t make a move overseas, he’s likely to see quite a few more minutes than the 23 he played in 2019.
The 2019 defensive unit for NTSC showed a ton of promise and potential for future roles with the first team and was a massive part of both the style of play for NTSC and the championship-winning performance of the team throughout the season.
Featured Image: North Texas SC