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.
With goalkeepers and defenders checked off the list, the next set of players are the midfielders.
Alfusainey Jatta // A
Jatta came into the team as an unknown talent from Gambia loaned in from a weird team in the Czech 3rd division. However, a couple of weeks into the season was all it took for Jatta to become a fan favorite. Jatta accumulated 27 starts during the regular season, but his quality isn’t explained by the numbers. His range of passing is possibly the best on the roster, and his size and strength make him a burden for the attackers in USL League 1. He lost his spot due to Edwin Cerrillo requiring minutes after being dropped from the first team, but Jatta always played well when he came on to the pitch. Jatta also showed his versatility when the center backs on the roster got injured, as he slid into the defense with ease.
The one negative aspect of Jatta is his future of the club. Many have him as one of the first signings from NTSC into the first team, but many forget he is simply on loan. This coupled with weird posts from teammates and himself, his future in Frisco is uncertain.
David Rodriguez // B+
David Rodriguez proved his talent last year with the U16s, notching 10 goals in 13 games. With men much bigger and more experienced than him, he was able to perform well throughout the season, especially at the start of the campaign. His connection with his older brother seemed to make it easier. Even though it’s difficult to criticize a 16-year-old kid in his first season as a professional, D Rodriguez did struggle to finish chances in the final third, as he scored only 2 goals in 19 appearances and subsequently lost his spot by the middle of the year.
His role with NTSC next year will grow, and his potential is evident, shown by his training stint with Bayern Munich that is occurring right now.
Arturo Rodriguez // A+
I mean, what a player. A Rodriguez ended up being the USL League 1 MVP, the USL League 1 Young POY, the USL League 1 Assist Champion, and he should have one USL League 1 Goal of the Year with this finish against Tormenta FC.
While many players were either streaky or hopping from FC Dallas to NTSC, Rodriguez was great all year round. His ability to manipulate defenders to do his bidding with a pass, a skill move, or a run was constant throughout the entire season, scoring 8 goals and notching 10 assists in 30 appearances.
the main question is how can he perform for the first team. Although Rodriguez has enough quality to perform in MLS, his room of growth is smaller than many players on this roster, as many of the players that play his position are younger. His versatility will help him as he transitions into FC Dallas, but it will be interesting to see his role next year.
Bicou Bissainthe // B-
Bicou was, like many of the international signings for NTSC at the start of the season, an unknown coming out of Haiti. He was mostly absent for large sectors of the season due to the performances of others and only played 682 minutes in 16 appearances, most of which were substitute appearances. When he played, he seemed to be a destroyer who covered a lot of ground, completing the defensive responsibilities of an attack-oriented midfield.
Bicou ‘s height and strength mimic Jatta, but his passing range and speed are lacking, even at a USL League 1 level. He has the potential to become a regular player in the USL Championship, as shown by his Gold Cup call-up to the Haitian national team, but he will have a hard time earning a bigger role in a team full of quality midfielders.
Thomas Roberts // A-
With Pomykal earning big minutes with FC Dallas, it was expected that Roberts was going to find the most of his playtime with North Texas, which was shown in 13 appearances. He scored 2 goals while playing for NTSC, and was pivotal to the team’s playoff run.
Roberts improved the physical aspects of his game substantially. It was already known that Roberts had the knowledge and the passing range to make it at the pro level, but his speed and physique were aspects of his game that were weak when he signed with the first team. It will be interesting how Luchi uses Roberts next year with FC Dallas with most of the midfielders coming back for 2020.
Edwin Cerrillo // B
Edwin Cerrillo played 13 matches for FC Dallas during the year, but the majority of his playing time with the first team came at the beginning of the season. With Servania’s performances and Ferreira’s transition into the midfield, Cerrillo was demoted to play for North Texas SC in the second half of the season, playing in 7 matches in the regular season and another match in the seminal of the USL League One Playoffs.
It was expected that Cerrillo was going to play in NTSC at some point in the season. Many forget, especially with his performances at the start of the season, that this was his first year as a professional. However, using his first couple of matches for FC Dallas as a ruler for his performances, Cerrillo underperformed against opposition with less quality. His performances were lethargic and reactive, which lead to him receiving a red card during the regular season.
It will be interesting to see how his development continues, as he is currently on the outside looking in on any significant minutes with FC Dallas.
Jorge Almaguer // A-
Entering his senior year, Almaguer was committed to NIU due to his performances at left-back for the U19’s. A year later, he signed a professional contract with NTSC and was one of the better performing midfielders throughout the year. Almaguer ended the year with the third-highest amount of starts (25), the third-highest in the number of minutes (1,999), and the highest passing accuracy on the team for players with more than 1,000 minutes (89.2).
Almaguer quietly handled a formation transition with ease and has looked the role of a pressing midfielder. His MLS comparison would be someone like Latif Blessing for LAFC, another short quick player that transitioned into the midfield this year and performed well there. If he continues with this consistent play, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Almaguer on the FC Dallas roster in the next year.
Tanner Tessmann // B-
Tanner Tessmann had Pomykal-esque levels of hype coming out of the academy, and with good reason. With his build and athletic ability, coupled with his versatility to play quite literally anywhere on the field, Tessmann has a bright future ahead of him. However, with the NTSC midfielder being filled with players with better performances, Tessmann was never able to get a strong grip on a starting role. In the matches that he played a role, it was mostly to fill up holes, as he played everywhere from Striker to center back.
His versatility seems to also be a slight weakness, as there is no real place to play him. Nonetheless, his quality will hopefully shine through next year. In NTSC’s inaugural season, Tessmann dipped his toes into the professional game, with 16 appearances with 9 of them being starts, and hopefully, his role grows next year.
Jacori Hayes // B-
In the 4 matches that Jacori Hayes played with NTSC, he played very well. Often, his distribution and movement on the ball were the best on the squad. The rating is based on the fact that Hayes has probably lost his spot on the first team. He has shown quality moments over the years, but nothing substantial enough to keep a spot in FC Dallas. His playing for NTSC is a sign that Hayes won’t be with the squad for much longer.
Cesar Garcia, Michel // Incomplete
Cesar Garcia played a total of one minute for NTSC this season but has been instrumental for the U19’s so far this year. He has the most starts at 8 and has already scored a goal this season. The defensive midfielder has participated in first-team training before, and Luchi seems very high on the kid. It wouldn’t be surprising if he received a larger role next season with NTSC.
Michel, who is one of the assistant coaches on Quill’s staff was required to play a match against Forward Madison in the middle of the season due to a lack of players available. His role in the squad next year will be crucial to how North Texas improves on this championship season…
The midfield core that NTSC put on display this season surpassed all expectations and has produced players that can play big roles in the first team next year.
Featured Image: Dallas Morning News