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.
After looking at the goalkeepers, defenders, and midfielders, we’ve reached the final third and the forwards.
Ronaldo Damus // A+
Damus had nothing short of a brilliant season for NTSC. The Haitian international finished the season as the top scorer in USL League One with 16 goals in his 22 appearances while adding an additional 3 assists to boot. Damus showed versatility, being deployed on the wing early in the season before moving into the center forward spot following Ricardo Pepi’s signing and promotion to the first team for the second half of NTSC’s season.
Damus’ performances over the course of the season earned the 20-year-old call ups to the senior Haitian national team and earned him the top spot on USL’s 20 Under 20 list for 2019. With his performances at the League One level, it would be a surprise to not see Damus signed to a homegrown contract with the senior team during the winter off-season. Damus may see some minutes at the senior team level next season depending on how his preseason goes but a loan to a USL Championship team, or possibly even abroad may be in the cards before he steps into a regular role with the first team.
Ricardo Pepi // A
The highly prized US U17 international exploded out of the gate at the start of the season, scoring a hat trick in the very first game for the club. In his 13 appearances, all mostly in the first half of the season, Pepi scored 11 goals and recorded a single assist. If it wasn’t for his promotion to the first team during the summer, Pepi almost certainly would have finished the season as the club’s and league’s leading scorer. Instead, his early-season performances helped to reinforce the NTSC model as Pepi became a regular inclusion in the 18 for the first team. Even only playing roughly half the season, Pepi was still named in the 6th spot on USL’s annual 20 Under 20 list in 2019.
Pepi may continue to see occasional appearances with NTSC in 2020 but he will want to push on from his excellent 2019 and become more of a regular with the first team and continue his upward trajectory in his career. The club is certainly invested in his future as he was included in the group who traveled to Germany to train with Bayern Munich during the November international break. 2020 may be Pepi’s breakout year at the MLS level.
Richard Danso // B
Danso joined NTSC on loan from Ghanaian club West African Football Academy in mid-July. He immediately became a regular in the lineup or off the bench for NTSC, making 13 appearances, 10 of which were starts, in the second half of the season. Danso finished the campaign with 2 goals and an assist, though he generated an impressive shot tally and was a regular threat in and around the 18-yard box. Danso’s final stats may seem slightly disappointing but for a player joining a team mid-season, especially a team that has as much chopping and changing of players week in and week out as NTSC, Danso settled in well and looked like a potential player for the future.
Danso’s future with the club is up in the air, he was only on loan from his parent club and no word has come down regarding any extension of the loan or the purchase of his contract. The 19-year-old has a bright future, already making appearances for Ghana’s youth teams, and the club would be wise to bring him back for another season if at all possible.
Johan Gomez // B
B might seem like a high grade for a player who only played 319 minutes in 6 appearances during the season, but Gomez makes the grade in part because of what transpired during the summer. Gomez was another player who was not signed to a contract with NTSC, he played up from the U19 team on a handful of occasions and looked like he belonged.
While Pepi showed out as a complete center forward at the start of the season, Gomez is more of the Maxi Urruti type of profile, a tireless runner who puts himself into fantastic positions in front of the goal. Gomez only scored a single goal for NTSC but his performances were enough, along with his time at the academy level, were enough to grab the interest of Portuguese giants FC Porto, who signed the 18-year-old in August. Gomez is another interesting case study in the first year of NTSC, an unsigned academy product who draws attention from overseas and heads abroad prior to signing anything with FCD. This isn’t ideal for FCD but now that MLS and MLS clubs will be pursuing solidarity payments and training compensation, it does mean that FCD will be compensated for Gomez to some extent.
Gibran Rayo // B
The 18-year-old academy player didn’t get a ton of opportunities for NTSC this season. He did make 12 appearances, but only 4 of those came as starts. Rayo played in the forward line and also spent some time playing as the furthest forward midfielder. He ended the season with just a single goal in those 12 appearances but did look like a promising player for the future.
Rayo is a ’01, so he still has one more year of eligibility at the academy level remaining before he will have to make a decision between a contract and college soccer. His opportunities at NTSC are likely to increase with some players likely to move on from the club or play with the first team more often so he is another one to watch out for in terms of signing an NTSC contract in the winter.
Oscar Romero // B
At age 23, Romero was one of the oldest regular outfield players for NTSC throughout the season. Romero made 20 appearances, 10 of which were starts, and contributed 3 goals and 3 assists over the course of 2019. He was often used as a sub as well, most notably coming on in the second half against Forward Madison in the semi-final and providing the spark needed to get NTSC over the line.
However, Romero’s future with the club is unclear. At 23, Romero has essentially aged out at NTSC and considering he was unable to nail down his position at the USL League One level, it is highly unlikely that he will break-in at the MLS level and contribute to the first team. The question becomes if Romero is taking minutes away from younger players who would be better served to get those minutes or if he’s valuable to keep around the team as a sort of veteran presence.
Dante Sealy // B
The 16-year-old son of former FC Dallas player Scott Sealy spent the season with NTSC on loan from the senior team, who he signed with as a homegrown prior to the 2019 season. Sealy has long been talked about as a promising talent and has been involved with US Youth National Teams at various youth levels. His first season playing at the professional level was perhaps a little bit disappointing considering his pedigree and hype. Sealy made 19 appearances, 10 of which were starts, scoring once and contributing 3 assists.
Although Sealy’s stats and inability to impose himself and consistently impact games was disappointing, he’s still only a 16 year old and has tons of development left to do, on the pitch and off the pitch. Another season largely spent with NTSC is likely on the cards for Sealy but he is likely to see a bit of the first-team action in friendlies and cup competitions in 2020.
Cristian Colmán // C
The no longer under contract Colmán played in 6 games for North Texas SC, 5 of which were starts, while coming back from his ACL injury suffered in 2018. Surely, the logic behind having a 25-year-old spend time playing for NTSC was to help him rehab and hope that he could potentially put together some decent form against a lower level of competition to potentially make him an option for the first team. Unfortunately for Colmán and the club, his time with NTSC was highly reminiscent of his time with the first team.
Colmán failed to register a goal or an assist in his 6 appearances. Much like his play for FCD, he did so many things well with his movement and his involvement in the build-up but he just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. After those 6 games, Colmán was brought back into the senior team fold but never actually made an appearance for FCD in 2019.
Led by a couple of USL League One superstars and supported by a group of solid contributors, the NTSC forward line was electric in 2019 as they helped lead NTSC to the most goals scored in the league and the USL League One title.
Featured Image: North Texas SC/Jack Wallace