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North Texas SC takes its first game of 2020 against El Paso Locomotive

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The USL League One champions pick up where they left off: winning.

North Texas SC Twitter

Playing external competition for the first time in 2020, USL1’s best team took a 1-0 victory off the pitch in Frisco, besting El Paso Locomotive. NTSC scored the game’s only goal in the aftermath of a short corner in the second half. By all accounts, the FCD affiliate had the better of the ball and the chances throughout the scrimmage.

For context, The Locomotive played their first-ever season last year, and finished 6th in the Western Conference regular-season standings while getting knocked out of the postseason by eventual champions Real Monarchs in the conference finals. In doing so, they played a possession-heavy style that did more to protect their own goal (2nd most/least clean sheets/goals allowed in the western conference) than threaten the opposition’s (bottom-half in goals scored and shots). The internet suggests this was their 4th game so far this preseason, in which they are working around the losses of their top two goal-scorers and top assist provider from 2019 (Kiesewetter, Gomez, and Kiffe, respectively). Sooooo, all caveats about preseason included, a strong start for your defending champs.

Trialists

Without being able to see names for substitutions in this one, I’m a little limited in knowledge of who is in camp with NTSC. The club posted a pre-season roster including trialists last season, and I’m still expecting the same to happen this year at some point soon. Until then, the three names below are the only ones we’ve been able to confirm so far.

Diego Guttierez – Yes, that’s a weird way to spell that last name. It’s also how NTSC spelled it in the lineup tweet, and I’m assuming they know better than me. There is a Diego “Gutierrez” who coaches and plays for NTSC assistant coach (and legendary emergency player) Michel Pereira, but he’s 26 years old and was last seen riding the bench for the Switchbacks in the USL Championship. He was at Club Leon prior to that, but this would still be a weird signing (if this is the correct guy) given NTSC’s profile.

Nicolas Scargle – Born in 2001 (so the same “vintage” as Thomas Roberts, Bryan Reynolds, Gibran Rayo, etc.), the Floridian CB was playing in the academy of USL Championship side Tampa Bay Rowdies as recently as the 2018-19 season, and apparently won a national championship at some level while there. A couple of highlight packages I’ve been able to find suggest an athletically gifted player (check out the speed at 2:35 of that first clip) if a little undersized for a CB at 6’0”. Not much to go on by way of ball-playing (what there is isn’t all that impressive), which may not augur well for that aspect of his game.

Mariano Fazio – He who swooped in to score the afternoon’s goal. A Richland College defender who has been a “Team of the Tournament”-type a handful of times for a team that has destroyed all before it in recent years. His chances at making NTSC’s roster will really depend on HOLY COW HAVE YOU SEEN THE RICHLAND COLLEGE SPORTS LOGO BEFORE?!?!?

The name is “R. Möbius Thunderduck”, aka “Moby Duck”, and he’s dressed like a WWI fighter ace. Splendid. Truly splendid.

PS: yes, NTSC called him “Mauricio” Fazio, but, unlike the above with “Guttierez”, we have the Richland College roster from the last few seasons to cross-reference.

Other Notes

  • Alisson started the game at CB despite playing as a CDM during his time in Brazil. With only one true CB on NTSC’s roster at the moment (Ponder), I’m sure Quill and Co are looking at least one more player for that spot (hence Scargle above, among others). Also, I’m continuing to stand in awe of how big this guy is – he’s #27 in this photo – truly missed his calling as a linebacker.
  • I was a little surprised to see Rayo and Rodriguez paired together in midfield for this game. Both have some magic in their boots for creating chances and going forward, but neither are known for clogging up the middle on defense, and it’s not exactly the most difficult midfield to pass through.
  • Moving Ima Almaguer into midfield would help in that area, but he played on the left of defense in this game, raising questions about NTSC’s ability to find a devoted left back. Yes, the team does have Almaguer and Waldeck there to cover, but both are probably best deployed in the center of the park.