After their first four matches of the season, North Texas SC remains undefeated.
So far, the team has outscored their opponents 8-to-3, and they secured their first clean sheet of the season on Easter Sunday with a win in San Jose.
With a record of 3-0-1, the team has consistently found itself near the top of MLS NEXT Pro’s power ranking, coming in at #3 for the time being.
This week, however, they’ll face their biggest adversary, #1 ranked Houston Dynamo 2. A team that’s only allowed a single goal in four straight wins.
This challenge will come as part of a double-header that will include a first-team battle between FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo FC.
Along with this momentous matchup taking place Saturday, April 23rd, the team is facing its own dilemmas regarding player movement and availability.
Here is everything you need to know this week:
Beginning with last Sunday, North Texas SC defeated San Jose Earthquakes II 1-0. A close, defensive match that was eventually broken up by an 80th-minute goal from Bernard Kamungo.
Kamungo has scored three goals in as many games. With FC Dallas unable to score in two matches already this month, he might be the next one sent up to help the first team.
This game also marked the end of Alex Covelo’s term in charge of SJ2, as he’s now been promoted to interim coach of San Jose’s first team.
Since the team’s last match, much has taken place. The first is the reintroduction of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
After a two-year hiatus, the tournament has returned. FC Dallas defeated USL Championship side Tulsa FC 2-1, advancing them to the fourth round group stage. Their group, the South Central group, also contains Sporting Kansas City, Houston Dynamo FC, and USL Championship side San Antonio FC.
The team won the competition back in 2016, and with help from a new rule that allows for an interchanging roster, some familiar faces will come along to help the team this year.
NTX standouts Isaiah Parker and Lucas Bartlett each earned a call-up for the first game, with the latter of the two earning the start.
This opportunity also meant neither of which were available for last week’s away match against SJ2. Paving the way for 17-year-old Nolan Norris to make his professional debut.
Great news for the club, which was quickly soured earlier this afternoon, after Norris earned a U.S. national team U-19 call-up, along with starting goalkeeper Antonio Carrera’s call-up to the U-20s.
This leaves the team with a dilemma both at left-back and in goal. Changes that will either lead to the return of Isaiah Parker to the lineup, or a rotation of Collin Smith and Blake Pope as outside defenders.
As for their goalkeeper, the team will look to debut either Seth Wilson or Felipe Carneiro de Souza, who made the team’s bench against San Jose.
Coach Kah said earlier today, “We’re in a position where players move up and players move down. It’s important for us to have this understanding, that if it’s not your week this week, maybe it’s your week next week.”
This week, however, the team will be playing their biggest game so far.
The Big Day
Saturday, April 23rd marks the huge double-header, with FC Dallas hosting the Houston Dynamo, and NTX against Houston Dynamo 2.
Dallas and Houston both sit within the heart of playoff contention in the MLS, meanwhile, North Texas and Dynamo 2 will be battling for the top spot in their own league.
Derek Waldeck, the long-standing face of the team, stated on Thursday, “It’s really encouraging knowing that we haven’t played the best soccer and we’ve still been able to get results.
The team, confident in the momentum they’ve built, is looking forward to the opportunity Saturday presents, not only in the team’s league standings but for the chance to meet many of their fans.
The team trains and practices in Frisco, yet play their home games in Arlington, miles away from many of their supporters. Saturday will finally allow many of whom to see the team in person, which should make for a great day for soccer.