Tonight, North Texas SC faces Colorado Rapids 2 in the MLS NEXT Pro game of the week.
Kicking off at 9 p.m. locally, you can watch the game online.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park sets the stage for an important rematch, this time with playoff implications. North Texas sits just within playoff consideration with a chance to pass in-state rival Houston Dynamo 2 with a good performance tonight.
Before the match preview, however, NTSC have made significant changes in preparation for the playoffs.
Here’s everything you might have missed beginning with the last game.
Shutting out Salt Lake
North Texas battered the Salt Lake City Real Monarchs 4-0.
With their third game unbeaten after a terrible July, Coach Pa-Modou Kah seems to have his squad back in order.
“Every time we go to training, we try not to think about the past result and whether it’s a win or a loss. We know our merit and we aim to better ourselves for the next game,” said center-back Paul Amedume.
After dominating the tempo early on, North Texas went scoreless in the first half.
In the 63rd minute of the match, Collin Smith broke down a pair of defenders before collapsing in the box, earning North Texas a penalty.
Smith has made a name for himself this season for his ability to make second-half adjustments. Along with others on the team, many have noted Kah’s ability to turn around the locker room with a halftime speech.
Tonight, Kah had this to say:
“In the first half he didn’t play to his standards, he wasn’t looking to go forward and he was allowing crosses on his side. But he knows that and that’s why in the second half it was a reset and he was an extra weapon for us offensively.”
“I look for the perfect opportunities to go but Pa has told me to not rush into the game and kind of let the game come to me,” added Smith. He continued, “There is no reason for me to rush into those spaces, instead I can slowly work my way into those spaces.”
José Mulato would bury the PK with ease.
Soon after, Hope Avayevu would bury home a second goal.
In an attempt to shift team focus to the defensive end, Hope and Mulato came off the pitch for Blake Pope and Luis Miguel.
The change only helped fuel North Texas’s attack, however, and Miguel would earn another penalty in the box come the 80th minute.
With Mulato off the field, Bernard Kamungo’s no-look goal put him at 13 on the season. Now just 3 goals behind Ronaldo Damus’s 2019 golden boot season, Kamungo has a chance to etch himself into North Texas history.
In the 90th minute, a deflection off the post allowed Pablo Torre to make it 4-0.
An absolute dismantling of Real Monarchs, who only forced two saves from Antonio Carrera at the other end. For North Texas, this was their best showing in a long time and came after a second-half adjustment sacrificed possession in order to capitalize on their phenomenal ability to counter-attack.
Four goals in just 30 minutes without making sacrifices at the back, this is how dominant North Texas can be given the right game plan.
Along with changing game plans have come roster changes.
Longtime North Texas captain Derek Waldeck, who had fallen out of recent lineups, mutually agreed upon his parting with the team.
He’s joined the Greenville Triumph of USL League One and will be missed by both the fans and the organization.
“Derek has been an integral part of the team over the years,” said General Manager Matt Denny of the 2020 draft pick.
In his goodbye to the team Waldeck stated:
“FC Dallas has such a unique culture and has set an incredible foundation that is built upon the principles of great people. I got to share the locker room with amazing guys, some great coaches, and even beyond the field some great people at the organization. It’s been such a blessing getting to know those people. I will forever be grateful for those relationships and experiences that came with being part of FC Dallas and North Texas SC.”
Waldeck was the longest-standing member of the team.
In his leave came a new addition in Carl Fred Sainté.
Sainté is a talented defensive-midfielder who’s had a quiet season in USL-C for New Mexico United. Behind Ugandan veteran Micheal Azira, Sainté hasn’t been able to improve on his impressive defensive and technical abilities.
A change of scenery and a formation that heavily relies on the six may just be the perfect formula for Sainté to excel. He’ll join North Texas on just a two-month loan with an option to buy, you can read more on that here: Carl Fred Sainté
Now in their third battle with Colorado this season, North Texas has won each 3-1. Both games amounted to comeback wins after going down early.
In both instances, Colorado has changed up their plan of attack, both times with little success.
This time around, however, Colorado is on the back of three straight ties, each time earning an extra point with a shootout win. North Texas alternatively have lost two shootouts straight and a tie tonight could spell trouble for their playoff ambitions.
Ambitions that are shared with Colorado as tonight they face elimination for their own playoff race.
They once again plan to change their tactics, but as with any game against Colorado, the battle is won in the midfield. For North Texas, that has been their weak point as of late.
Depending on the performance of Jared Aguilar and Alejandro Urzua, tonight may be the perfect opportunity to introduce Sainté. His passing ability is on par with those of Blaine Ferri and he’s great at slowing down counter-attacks with game-breaking tackles.
For tonight’s game of the week, we will actually receive watchable coverage that doesn’t rely on the league’s often-used automated camera.
A beautiful stadium sitting in Commerce City, Colorado will set the venue for another night where our NTX stars can shine.
Kamungo, Avayevu, and Smith have all excelled against Colorado, combining for 5/6 goals scored. All of them are playing at the top of their game right now and tonight is the perfect opportunity for North Texas to move up in playoff seeding.