For North Texas SC, 2021 ended with a first round playoff exit in USL League One. Four months later, the team not only finds itself with a new roster but an entirely new league as well.
For North Texas SC, their first game this upcoming Saturday will also be the start of MLS NEXT Pro. A new developmental league and MLS affiliate, that allows for the exchanging of players with the first team depending on team needs. The league is another part of a growing initiative to accelerate the popularity of Soccer in America.
On to the team, there are plenty of changes to explore.
The first of which is their new coach, Pa-Modou Kah, who won coach of the year in 2021 in the Canadian Football League with Pacific FC. He will be bringing over his 4-3-3 system that was successful last year. This system, players say, demands hard running and high pressing, and rewards a hard work ethic.
In the few weeks, the team has had Kah around, it’s clear he’s well-liked throughout the organization. A coach that’s able to jest with his players, while simultaneously demanding respect from his peers.
Next is the roster turnover. Whereas a few team leaders like Derek Waldeck and Blaine Ferri remain on the roster, there are plenty of new faces as well. As the team veteran and captain, Waldeck said, “My job really is to be the guy at the front pushing the group forward and trying to bring guys up to our standard each and every day.”
The manner in which many of these new players have come to the team is unique as well. The team has always strived for diversity in its players, and now it has found a diverse form of recruitment. This roster hosts the talents of international recruits and SuperDraft college stars. At the same time, finding room for its homegrown talents and even a standout high schooler in attacker Pablo Torre.
At the top, is General Manager Matt Denny. He has said, “We’ve had to be patient when it comes to signing new players.” A short offseason means the team was tasked with filling roster spots early on, while still trying to focus on quality rather than quantity. Denny and his staff will be entrusted with making sure the team performs at a high level, which he’s confident they’re well organized for.
In regards to those borrowed from the FC Dallas first team, Denny said, “Just because they’re coming down, doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed minutes. Now we have a lot of first team players in our training session, in years past we’d get them on Fridays, now they’ve got to learn how to play the system and actually earn the minutes.”
A great sign from a team that has earned itself a reputation for developing talent while simultaneously achieving positive league results.
The team embodies the philosophy that talent can come from anywhere, you just have to know how to spot it. It’s also one of the few squads where you’ll see such a wide range of talent, all of whom with the potential of moving up to the MLS level.
Expectations will be high going forward, and no one should be surprised when this team is fairing well against the best this league has to offer.