The month of July saw a monumental collapse in form from North Texas who dropped 11 of 12 possible points.
After a brief stint atop the league table North Texas saw an unprecedented run of form. Entering the most difficult stretch of their schedule, Coach Pa-Modou Kah had noticed his players getting too comfortable with winning.
The first 30 days of July saw NTX be outscored 12-6 including their first shut out after a 2-0 loss to St. Louis City 2.
However, on the final day of July they responded with a 3-0 win over Sporting Kansas City II. A game boasting their most well-rounded performance all season.
In the 7th minute, Hope Avayevu assisted Bernard Kamungo for his 7th of the season, making him the league leader in assists.
An overlapping run by José Mulato would make it 2-0 before Kamungo secured his brace, reaching 11 goals on the season.
“Since Monday, when we started training, we were putting in the work. The team got tired of losing, so we just kept pushing each other. Through today’s game, you can see the work and we were fighting,” said Kamungo.
After a stagnant few weeks, North Texas displayed their ability to fight by creating overlapping runs, pinpoint crosses, and overwhelming counterattacks against a team that put four goals past them just 30 days ago.
Coach Pa-Modou Kah added, “After not winning four games, the boys may have been in their own heads but their mental focus and what they’ve been giving this week was fantastic.”
Usual hero Antonio Carrera recorded just a single save all night as his newly motivated teammates put together their best defensive performance of the season.
A surprising and sudden shift in quality, especially for newcomer Jared Aguilar who made his professional debut after impressing in the FC Dallas academy. The 17-year-old put up a decent 90 minutes after getting a call-up on short notice, making him the team’s 8th academy product promoted this season.
Kah spoke on Aguilar capping a quality start: “He’s a player that is very mature for his young age, reads the game well, keeps it simple. He’s not trying to overcomplicate the game. We always knew what he had but given the circumstances, he’s never had an opportunity. But sometimes in the game, you just chuck him in.”
“Just chucking him in” has worked a lot for Kah this season. Academy standouts like Alejandro Araneda, Nolan Norris, and Alejandro Urzua have all featured multiple times this season after excelling with their MLS NEXT age groups.
Yet none put together a 90 minute debut like Aguilar, let alone on two days notice from the staff. Aguilar said, “It’s quite the difference level wise, when I was playing for the Academy I did not think I would be here today.”
Nevertheless, Kah was less surprised with Aguilar’s debut, “He’s a very humble kid, he always lets his feet do the talking. Today he deserved to play and there was no reason to take him out because he was fantastic in the midfield.”
For now, he’s helped North Texas overcome an awful run of form and just in time too. With just three points separating themselves from Earthquakes II and Whitecaps FC 2, North Texas sit on the brink of playoff qualification.
Entering the final two months of the regular season North Texas only have six matches remaining. Additional time between matches will hopefully help team preparation as each game becomes increasingly significant.
On Sunday, August 7 at 9 p.m., North Texas will travel to Hillsboro stadium to take on Portland Timbers 2. Their previous match resulted in a 2-1 victory for North Texas in a game where the team became a bit complacent after an early cushion.
Since then, Portland have found themselves on a six game skid and now sit at the bottom of the league table. With only a single win to their name, North Texas will have a good opportunity to build some momentum going into their season ending playoff push.