Since we last met, North Texas SC earned draws against the two best teams in the league, though the club probably had opposite reactions to the two games. First, NTSC hosted Chattanooga and outplayed the Red Wolves for 85 minutes, only to buckle under late pressure and give up the equalizer. Then, after a break week, NTSC went to the league leaders and picked up a 1:1 on their post-stamp field. Taking a point from Omaha doesn’t cancel out dropping two to Chattanooga, but the good news is that playing at parity with the best teams in the league generally means you can beat the lesser teams. Speaking of lesser teams, NTSC plays cellar-dwellers Tucson and North Carolina next – time to put up or shut up.
Putting the Red Wolves down (or not)
At this rate, the first game in NTSC history back in March 2019 will be remembered exclusively as Ricardo Pepi’s professional debut crowned by a hat trick. Lost to history, however, NTSC raced out to a 3-0 lead, only to concede twice in the final ten minutes and make the game far less comfortable than it should have been. In the aftermath, Eric Quill commented that his young team played well, but needed to learn how to finish games off.
Two and a half years later, a totally different NTSC showed the same naivety against the same club in the same city. It was the sum of many poor decisions and moments that brought NTSC down, but I’ll focus on three:
A hard learning moment for a young group.
Caiser Gomes makes the leap others couldn’t
NTSC CB Caiser Gomes is now an FC Dallas player. The details are a little weird insofar as Gomes is actually an FC Alverca (lower-league club in the outskirts of Lisbon) player on loan at North Texas, who have now loaned him to FC Dallas. With Matt Hedges and Jose Martinez back imminently, he may never see the field for the first team, but the loan gives them guaranteed depth at CB before the August 5 roster freeze and indicates at least some interest in retaining him beyond 2021.
- If FCD makes the loan permanent, that would check another box on the form asking whether NTSC can work. Gomes would be the first international player to sign with NTSC and then advance to the first team. Proof of concept!
- Gomes could be the second CB to parlay his performances with the second team into an extended run with the first team. Only Nkosi Tafari has done so thus far. How does he compare to prior options who didn’t make it?
Six players have played more than six games as a CB for NTSC: Gomes, Nkosi Tafari, Callum Montgomery, Brecc Evans, Justin Che, and Alisson. Here’s how they compare in a variety of statistical categories (more on G+ here).
In this sample, Justin Che was 16-years-old, Brecc Evans was 19-20, Alisson was 20-21, Gomes was 21, Montgomery was 22, and Tafari was 23-24. Subjectively, if you asked me which of the group I trusted most defensively, it’d be Gomes, Tafari, and Montgomery in some order.
Will Gomes prove to be 2021 emergency depth for the first team and nothing more? We’ll find out.
- Soon after the Chattanooga match, reports emerged that 2021 would be the final season for MLS affiliates in USL1, with a total break between the USL and MLS final by the end of 2022. More to come on this topic at some point, but for now, I’ll just say it’s super disappointing to me that it seems NTSC will bolt for the MLS U23 league. USL1 was a great level for the second team.
- Blaine Ferri has now started four straight games after appearing in his first two as a substitute. The Southlake-native is clearly a smart, classy player, doing stuff in moments that just look different than what other players in USL1 try. Keep an eye on him going forward.
- Hey USL1 broadcast crews? Maybe don’t mic up the benches in Omaha. We’re talking The-Departed-levels of F-words caught by the field microphones.