North Texas made their season debut last night, winning 3-1 against Minnesota United II. Even in their new league and under a new coach, North Texas persisted in their winning ways.
What turned out to be a thrilling game between the two teams showcased the old and new talent that North Texas boasts. A first half goal by the squads oldest player and captain Derek Waldeck was followed up by a brace by super-sub 16-year-old Tarik Scott.
Scott, who has been a part of the FC Dallas system for 11 years already, has already bought into Pa-Modou Kah’s philosophy of high pressing soccer that capitalizes on mistakes.
“The coaches really love high pressing and being able to win the ball high up the pitch. The higher up you win it the closer you are to goal, so my plan was to press as high up as possible,” said Scott.
An MLS NEXT player who’s taken full advantage of his opportunity at a higher level. Amazing in his first professional debut.
Whereas Scott will look to become a starter down the line, Waldeck has continued to impress in his starting role, moving up to the midfield for todays game, where he was excellent in setting up chances.
Enough can’t be said about goalkeeper Antonio Carrera either. A shot stopping masterclass that was only broken up during a ten minute lull in the game where NTX looked slow and languid after dominating possession for most of the game.
Although they held 61% of the possession, defensive mistakes led to Minnesota getting 20 shots off throughout the game.
In my opinion, although NTX dominated the pace of the game, MNUFC II had the better chances, especially early on. Defensive lapses were continually taken advantage of, while long passes flew overheard to a struggling, sometimes slow defense. Lucky for NTX, Minnesota couldn’t control their final touch when it mattered most and Carrera came in clutch with six saves.
Otherwise, a great game by the team. Six yellow cards for Minnesota, it was clear throughout that they just couldn’t keep up.
My only major issue with the game was not with the players, but with the stream. While I applauded the free, online stream the league was providing for viewers, I forgot the trade-offs that usually come with anything free. The stream had a five minute delay, their automated camera system lost track of the ball numerous times, and not a single goal showed a replay.
My advise: You’re better off seeing the team play in person! The stadium is massive, tickets are cheap, and from what I’ve seen so far, the quality on the field is phenomenal.
Player grades and additional points:
Waldeck was a step ahead all game. He moved around well, played both offensively and defensively, scored a goal, and combined really well with Isaiah Parker throughout the whole game. A+.
Another A. Carrera was being peppered with shots when he was eventually scored against, the rest of the game, he was a shot-stopping beast and played nicely with his feet. Including a run out of his own box for an interception in a crucial 1-on-1 stop.
Amedume is a big, strong defender who became the culprit of a speedy Minnesota attack. He wasn’t necessarily bad, but had an uneventful match and some turnovers. C+.
Niece was a bit more mobile in the back, and connected some decent long passes. At the same time, he definitely still struggled, but tried his best to account for others and direct traffic inside the box. B.
Blake also had a largely uneventful match, aside from a few solid defensive stops. He showed a great first touch on the ball throughout the night, but almost scored an own-goal in the second half which luckily bounced off the post and across the goal, somehow never crossing the line. C+.
Parker was great throughout the match. He moved up and down the left side of the field, including cutting in a couple times to create solid combinations with the midfield. He also made some well standing tackles along with some interceptions. For me, he gets a B+.
I think expectations were a bit too high for Ferreira, who looked to be pushed around in the midfield. Unfortunately, I think he had the dullest performance of the starters, but still capped a team win. C-.
Ferri made some bad decisions early on, including a big on in the 50th minute, but looked to improve new the end of the game, even earning himself an assist. I appreciate his resilience in a match that needed it. B.
Started the game a bit slow, but definitely gained momentum throughout the match. He made a great turn and could’ve broken away towards goal in the 48th, if not for an offside flag. In the 80th minute, he absolutely put his body on the line to block a shot and came up a bit shaken up, before jogging it off. A-.
This guy looked really good throughout the game, including a couple impressive runs with the ball at his feet. Earned a freekick in the first half, and it became clear throughout the second half that the team trusts him with the ball at his feet. He’d eventually come off, however, after some lackluster defense. A-.
The high schooler had a quiet debut for the team. He shifted the defense, created space, and was good finding it as well, but could never get a decent opportunity on goal. I expect better things from him going forward. B-.
Came in right after Minnesota leveled up the game. For a while, he looked disconnected and uncreative, but going into the final 15 minutes he picked up his play with the rest of the team. Decent but forgettable, B-.
Star of the show. At a point of the game where everyone else had slowed down, he came on and took advantage of tired legs and looked relentless in his pursuit towards goal. A+.
Looked pretty natural in his ten minutes tonight. B.
Wasn’t bad but looked a bit out of place. Also committed a foul, admittedly while the team was wasting time, but not his brightest moment. C+
Highlights, stats, and more for the match can be found at: https://www.mlsnextpro.com/competitions/mls-next-pro/2022/matches/ntxvsmin-03-26-2022/video