Last Saturday, North Texas SC took down Whitecaps FC 2 1-0.
What made for another tough opponent, the Whitecaps entered the match on a four-game winning streak.
They had also managed to score in six straight matches before Sunday.
Nonetheless, the North Texas defense played soundly along with the teams ever so consistent attack.
Another clean-sheet for Felipe Carneiro, who stepped up once again in place of Antonio Carrera who was called in to join FC Dallas.
The win also moved North Texas back in second place in the league, ahead of Columbus Crew 2 on goal differential.
After an excellent start to the season against some of the league’s toughest teams, North Texas will finally see their level of competition ease off during their next three matches.
This will become an essential period for the team to explore new concepts before entering the second half of the season.
Tonight they will face Real Monarchs, the league’s last-place team and one of only two winless sides in MLS NEXT Pro.
They’ll be traveling to Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman City, Utah. The elevation there sits over 4,500’ about that of Dallas and may lead to earlier substitutions during tonight's match depending on how the players handle the climate.
With FC Dallas loanee Maarten Paes still missing, tonight's game likely won’t feature Antonio Carrera once again.
The star goalkeeper has spent the last week training with FC Dallas as their goalkeeper #2 behind veteran Jimmy Maurer.
With Paes likely to return to FC Utrecht come June, this move for Carrera may have come as a permanent one.
In the meantime, however, coach Pa-Modou Kah has instilled his faith in Carneiro.
With Carrera being called up just before their match against Whitecaps FC 2, Carneiro was thrown into the starting lineup.
“For us, it’s about being adaptable and we adapted to the situation because we know we have a keeper that can and is willing to do the job, and he kept a clean sheet again,” said Coach Kah.
This is now Carneiro’s second straight clean sheet after an unfortunate debut against Dynamo Dos.
Against the Monarchs, Carneiro will not only start once again, but the 18-year-old Brazilian will be taking on one of the league’s least creative offenses that has been efficient in its limited chances.
The key for tonight's match will be capitalizing on opportunities.
The Monarchs are also tied for the most goals allowed this season with 18. Tonight’s game should present the opportunity for a win, so long as the players take it.
The Learning Phase is how Coach Kah has described this time period for North Texas.
“About us, who we want to become, and the players around us.”
This team has found success in spite of being made up of many teenagers and draftees learning to be professional athletes all at the same time.
One of these players making the jump is Deportivo Cali loanee José Mulato, who has put together two goals and an assist in his last three starts.
The Colombian native came straight from U20 development and still only speaks his native language of Spanish.
Although Coach Kah speaks an impressive eight languages, Spanish is not one of them.
Part of the beauty of this side, however, is how they’ve embraced their diversity.
A culmination of college draftees, DFW locals, and international prospects.
Although the team has developed well together and sits high up on the league table, Kah says they’re still not finished adapting to one another.
When that happens he says the team will hit another level, stating, “Once they click together I think we’re going to be a very dangerous team.”