North Texas tied Houston Dynamo 2 3-3 in last night’s Texas Derby before losing penalty shootout.
Their sole point keeps North Texas firmly within playoff contention, but drops them just behind Houston in the standings.
Just five minutes into the match a turnover by Santiago Ferreira allowed Houston to score.
Although North Texas outnumbered Houston 7-4 in their defensive box, another mistake from Ferreira led to a penalty that Marcelo Palomino put bottom-left, just out of Antonio Carrera’s reach.
Now at the 24th minute, Houston had secured a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Soon after, Ferreira would come off for Tomas Lacerda, an unfortunate ending to the 17-year-olds day.
Immediately afterward, José Mulato would head home a corner from Blaine Ferri.
Moments later, a shot from Tomas Lacerda would clearly hit the arm of a defender, but the unintentional handball went uncalled.
Just before halftime, Houston would earn a free-kick that would’ve made it 3-1 if not for a remarkable save from Carrera.
This was just one of a handful of remarkable saves he made on the night, including coming out of his box for a couple diving headers as well.
Entering the second half, North Texas once again came out flat-footed, a well timed run from Isaiah LeFlore beat NTX right-back Collin Smith to make it 3-1.
From here on out North Texas would take over the game.
A corner from Bernard Kamungo perfectly found the left foot of Lacerda who redirected the ball into the top-left corner.
Nearing the end of the match another shot, this time from Mulato, hit the hand of a defender.
Soon after, Smith would redeem his earlier error and earn an assist on another goal from Mulato. A game-tying brace that puts Mulato at six goals on the season.
The game was now tied 3-3 and with just five minutes left in regular-time, North Texas went for the win.
“We play to win, we aren’t looking to tie games,” said Kah.
Two more excellent crosses from Smith would make their way into the box, neither of which could find the back of the net.
The game would finish 3-3 and both teams would earn a point before heading to a PK shootout for a bonus point. A heroic comeback that was emblematic of a proper rivalry on the scoresheet as well as on the pitch.
“There was a lot of trash talk between both teams and we saw that as a way to energize and fuel us to tie the game at the end,” added Mulato.
Unfortunately, North Texas wouldn’t complete the full comeback and would fall 5-4 in the shootout.
Despite the end result, the point keeps them in playoff contention and performance resulted in some positive takeaways from coach Kah.
“These are the games you want to have because these are the games you learn from,” said Kah. He continued, “It showed everything a derby game should look like. It’s a perfect game for our boys to learn from, but also because they showed character and heart.”
When asked about the impact Houston’s two handballs had on the match, Mulato added his thoughts: “It was very frustrating, especially with the last no call, and there were other fouls being missed throughout the match as well. It’s upsetting when the ref is missing calls because it messed with the flow of the players.”
Nonetheless, the match still left many positive takeaways.
16-year-old Alejandro Urzua made his first start of the season and Smith earned praise from his coach for his response in the second half.
“If you look at the players who have grown technically and tactically, it’s him,” said Kah in reference to Collin Smith. He continued, “Every single day he’s looking at how he can improve and get better. So I even look at him like my son.”
Smith not only had a great response to going down 3-1, but found motivation with his teammates to completely dominate the second half.
“We went into halftime and knew we could’ve done better as a whole. We touched on our objectives again at halftime and knew what we needed to do in the second half.” Smith continued, “My teammates built me up from the first half and I told myself I can be better and that I was a little bit reactive.”
Smith more than showed his ability to bounce back after a rough start. The 18-year-old and self described “attacking right-back” is one of the best in the FC Dallas system.
When asked about Smith after the match, Kah added: “The Collin we see now is going to be a different Collin in the end, in two years time. He’s going to be the FC Dallas right-back for the future, I believe that, and his potential is high.”
A great outlook to the future and another example of how these young players have grown rapidly under the guidance of coach Kah.