After a thrilling penalty shootout win against the Tacoma Defiance, North Texas SC snagged their first overtime win of the season.
One rule that’s particularly unique to MLS NEXT Pro is the opportunity for an additional point in the case of a tie. After finishing regular time 1-1, the team went straight into a penalty shootout, a condition coach Pa-Modou Kah had admittedly forgotten about.
A 6-5 shootout win means the team sits with five points on the season, placing them second in the Western Conference after two games.
Assistant Coach Vikram Virk, who joined the team along with Kah in January, orchestrated the successful shootout lineup.
The final, winning penalty came from this years’ SuperDraftee Isaiah Parker. Parker said that although he wasn’t included in the initial shootout list, he was the first to volunteer and that he’s been practicing for this opportunity.
Parker, who has historically played on the wing, has made a shift to left-back in accordance with a bigger plan set by parent club, FC Dallas. A project player that the team has attempted to re-tool in order to prepare him for an eventual move to the MLS.
Captain Derek Waldeck, who used to occupy the left side, has shifted closer to the midfield this season. This move has allowed the two to combine in the buildup with Waldeck dropping into open spaces, or covering for Parker when he pushes upfield.
Kah’s system seems to be coming across well with the players, who look to be one of the best this league has to offer going into the third week of the season.
Where the team stands
Parker started the game alongside fellow 2022 draftees Chase Niece, as well as first-time starter Lucas Bartlett. These players were part of a six-pick draft class by Dallas as the team continues to prioritize its investment into player development.
Developing young players at NTX are tested early on but are never guaranteed playing time, as every minute needs to be worked for.
Coach Kah has remained persistent in his belief that “There is no set lineup, if someone is going to play it’ll be because they earned that spot.”
The likes of team veteran Waldeck concurred with this sentiment, saying, “At the end of the day it’s a professional league, and we expect everyone to be competitive.”
This past win dethroned the top team on the MLS NEXT Pro power ranking, placing NTX firmly in third. League writer Jesus Tellitud notes as well that NTX has “brought a relentless, never-die attitude these first couple of matches.”
This upcoming Sunday, at 4 p.m., NTX will host the Colorado Rapids 2 at Choctaw Stadium.
Colorado, a ball-dominant team that’s only played one game so far, remains a big unknown. That being said, Kah remains that the team will keep up the same playing style against a team that’s known to sit back defensively and hold onto the ball.
The high-pressing style that Kah has implemented has been successful in securing two of the team’s four regular season goals thus far. If Colorado holds onto the ball for long periods of the game, the team will likely look to capitalize on another mistake.
Although goalkeeper Antonio Carrera fumbled the ball that led to Tacoma’s goal last week, Kah remains firm that these are necessary steps in his development.
Otherwise looking solid in front of the net, Carrera will continue to start along with most of the same lineup.
Depending on the rotation, a striker position that’s full of depth will likely see two-out-of-three in regards to Pablo Torre, Collin Smith, and Tarik Scott, over the course of 90 minutes.
Defensive rotation will likely see Bartlett continuing to start, alongside Paul Amedume or Chase Niece, depending on whether Colorado sits with possession, or picks up the pace of play.