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North Texas look to bounce back against Whitecaps FC 2

After a tough overtime loss to Tacoma, North Texas look to have found a system that works, so long as they keep everyone on the field.

North Texas SC will look to redeem themselves at home against Whitecaps FC 2 at 8 p.m. tonight.

Despite last week’s overtime loss to the Tacoma Defiance, this week should be a better reflection of how far the team has come, as they battle for second place in the Western Conference.

Here’s everything that happened this week and how they look going into their eighth match of the season.

Last Game

Tacoma came to Texas after witnessing their parent club the Seattle Sounders win their first-ever Concacaf Champions League Final.

Two days later the Sounders took on FC Dallas, relying on some of Tacoma’s stars to fill out their lineup. Meaning North Texas got a depleted version of Tacoma last Sunday.

North Texas also rotated much of its own roster, moving out regular additions José Mulato, Felipe Carneiro, and Pablo Torre for Alejandro Urzua, Malachi Molina, Fabian Enriquez, Alejandro Araneda and Will Baker.

Lucas Bartlett would join FC Dallas for the week, leaving him off the gameday roster. Derek Waldeck also made his way to the bench for the first time this season, moving Santiago Ferreira to the defensive midfield position.

The league once again faced technical issues with their cameras, leaving the stream down for much of the first half, so I’ll try and recap what went on.

North Texas adjusted much of their own strategy, locking up Tacoma early on.

Dominating the game from the get-go, North Texas didn’t allow Tacoma to have control of the ball in their own half for the entire first half.

They controlled possession and were connecting passes, with the likes of Bernard Kamungo breaking down their defensive lines.

In spite of a couple of whiffed opportunities, Tacoma’s defense did everything they could to contain North Texas, including picking up a couple of yellow cards for Randy Mendoza and Achille Robin.

Kamungo earned an astounding five freekicks on the day, and at the start of the second he went down again just outside the 18-yard-box.

Blaine Ferri whipped a shot in that required a phenomenal one-handed save by Andrew Thomas. The ball then bounced at the feet of Chase Niece who combined with fellow center-back Paul Amedume for his first goal of the season.

At this point, they’ve shut down the league’s leading scorer Alfonso Ocampo-Chávez as well as some players with MLS experience such as 17-year-old Reed Baker-Whiting.

That being said, back-to-back yellow cards for Isaiah Parker earned him a red card, completely shifting the momentum of the game.

In the 56th minute, Antonio Carrera was forced to make his first save of the game, just to lose one of his defenders in the 60th.

In the 69th minute, the ball would bounce around North Texas’s box before Carrera would allow in a shot over his head at the near post.

This huge momentum shift ended up killing North Texas’s prospects of a win as for the second time of the season they ended in a tie against Tacoma.

In the penalty shootout, however, North Texas would miss out on an extra point, going 2/4 on penalties.

This came as a huge disappointment, as Santiago Ferreira and Paul Amedume put in great games to shut down one of the league's best attacking teams.

Kamungo was once again outstanding up-top, and no one should be surprised if he finds his way on the FC Dallas roster later in the year.

Another hard-working member of the lineup, André Costa, had his ups and downs in this match but really showed himself to be a hard-running midfielder who will make defenses uncomfortable.

Coach Pah-Modou Kah summed the game up to: “Dissapointing considering how well we started.” That said, he admitted he was proud of the hard work they put in, finishing a game with only ten men, in 95º weather.

Since Then

North Texas, in their usual fashion, believes in short memories.

They’ve spent the week since carrying out practice competitions per usual as well as their weekly philanthropic contribution, this week coming in the form of aiding FC Dallas in packing Summer education kits for students of the Child Care Group.

It’s become part of the team's process to move on quickly from disappointing results and shift their focus forward.

This time around, it’ll be for tonight's matchup against Whitecaps FC 2, in a battle for second place in the West.

Tonight

The big questions for tonight's game come in the form of handling Parker’s red card, as U-17 standout Nolan Norris will likely start his second game of the season for North Texas.

The rest of the defense could look the same depending on the status of Lucas Bartlett, who may still be with Dallas.

Ferreira is one of the few cast members who has started every game of the season, and after a good shift as the six in Kah’s midfield, he’ll likely start once again.

Then as always, Hope Avayevu and Kamungo have cemented their roles up top.

The rest of the spots may be up for rotation, as Kah has emphasized how impressed he’s been with a few academy players who have joined the roster this past week.

The Whitecaps, who’s found success against some of the league's best teams, is coming off a 2-1 victory over Saint Louis City 2 and looking to continue their four-game winning streak.

A methodical attack that’s used to close out games well will face a North Texas side that likes to strike early. Not a single team has been able to shut out North Texas this season, so don’t be surprised if today's game is another one full of multiple goals and outstanding offensive highlights.