FRISCO, Texas - North Texas SC is BACK and better than ever. Well, that second part remains to be seen. It'd be pretty tough to top the 2019 title-winning side that featured the likes of Ricardo Pepi, Bryan Reynolds, Tanner Tessmann, Edwin Cerrillo, Brandon Servania and many more that went on to star for FC Dallas and clubs around the world.
But that's part of what makes this team so interesting. You never know which up-and-coming North Texas players will go on to become household names. Who knows, you could be watching the next Ricardo Pepi in the flesh if you attend NTSC's 2022 Home Opener this Saturday, at 8PM at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington.
To get you ready for North Texas SC's inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season, here's a full breakdown of the club's roster (including FCD first team-ers that are likely to see time in MLS NEXT Pro).
Felipe Carneiro (NTSC, 18 y/o) - Carneiro is the only goalkeeper signed to NTSC's roster. He joined the club from his native Brazil where he played in the youth teams of Sau Paulo FC. He's not the biggest 'keeper around (6-foot-1) but, from what I've seen, he's excellent with his feet and has strong reflexes.
Antonio Carrera (FCD, 18 y/o) - Carrera recently signed a Homegrown contract with FC Dallas but, with Maarten Paes and Jimmy Maurer ahead of him in the first team pecking order, expect Carrera to spend plenty of time with NTSC this year. Carrera is FCD through and through having joined the youth system as a 10-year-old and he's grown into the ideal goalkeeping frame at 6-foot-4. Carrera was originally going to sign his first contract with NTSC earlier this year but his impressive performances during FCD's preseason earned him a first team Homegrown contract.
Paul Bello Amedume (NTSC, 19 y/o) - Center back Paul Bello Amedume followed new NTSC head coach Pa-Modou Kah from Pacific FC in the Canadian Premier League to North Texas (Amedume is currently on a season-long loan). He only made one appearance for Pacific but he's featured heavily during NTSC's preseason so far. Amedume is quick and strong but he really shines with the ball at his feet when carrying it out of the back.
Alex Araneda (NTSC, 18 y/o) - Nicknamed "Chile", Araneda joined the club this offseason from California United Strikers FC in the National Independent Soccer Association. Araneda played in midfield for Cal United but, at 6-foot-3, is likely going to be converted to a central defender.
Lucas Bartlett (FCD, 24 y/o) - Bartlett was drafted in the first round of this year's MLS SuperDraft by FC Dallas. Physically, he's the ideal package for a center back (6-foot-4, strong, fast) but it's a big jump from college soccer to MLS. Bartlett could see some time in NEXT Pro to ease that transition. More on Lucas Bartlett HERE.
Chase Niece (NTSC, 23 y/o) - Niece is another 2022 SuperDraft pick (taken 66th overall out of Saint Louis University) but, unlike Bartlett, signed his first pro contract directly with NTSC. Niece has been another mainstay during North Texas' preseason games and he'll likely see a lot of the field during the regular season as well. He may not have the speed of Bartlett but his size and passing ability look good on the surface.
Isaiah Parker (FCD, 19 y/o) - Much like Bartlett, Parker was one of FCD's first round draft picks (third overall from St. Louis where he was Chase Niece's teammate) but he may spend some time in NEXT Pro as he acclimates to the pro level. Parker was drafted after just one college semester and he's still transitioning from left wing to left back, so don't be surprised if he sees a lot of minutes with North Texas this year.
Blake Pope (NTSC, 18 y/o) - A Prosper, Texas native, Pope spent some of his youth career in the FCD Academy but broke into the professional ranks with Charlotte Independence in USL. He's listed as a midfielder in most places but has mainly played right back during preseason.
Collin Smith (FCD, 18 y/o) - Collin Smith enters his third season with North Texas and second since signing a Homegrown contract with FCD. Smith was a winger in during his academy days but has been converting to a right back for the last 18 months or so. He was typically a starter during preseason and his performances have likely earned him the job to start the season.
Hope Avayevu (NTSC, 19 y/o) - Hope is back for his second season with North Texas after joining the club from Bechem United in his native Ghana ahead of the 2021 season. He originally caught FCD's attention with impressive displays in the Dallas Cup back in 2019 but, as an international, had to wait until his 18th birthday to sign with NTSC. Anyway, Hope had a tough 2021 due to injury and some inconsistent performances but the 19-year-old creative midfielder looks revitalized under Pa-Modou Kah. Could 2022 be Hope's year? We certainly hope so.
Andre Costa (NTSC, 20 y/o) - Andre Costa has one of the more interesting pathways to North Texas of the entire squad. Born in Sãu Paulo, Costa moved with his family to Weston, Florida before relocating to Spain to train with the youth academies of Real Madrid and Leganés. A creative midfielder or winger, Costa is also a former U.S. youth international at the U-17 level. Also, his sister plays for Levante's women's team and the Brazilian national team.
Blaine Ferri (NTSC, 21 y/o) - Mr. Ferri returns for his second season with NTSC after joining ahead of 2021 from Inter Miami's second team. Prior to that, Ferri played in Germany's lower leagues with Greuther Fürth II after spending his youth days with Solar SC. The Southlake native began 2022 in fantastic form and spent the majority of his preseason with the FC Dallas first team. Ferri should be a key piece of NTSC's midfield for the second season running and will look to fulfill his immense potential that made him a regular in USMNT youth teams.
Tomás Lacerda (NTSC, 19 y/o) - Lacerda joined North Texas on a season-long loan from FC Alverca in Portugal. He's mainly a defensive midfielder who'll likely compete with Ferri and Waldeck (below) for playing time at the base of midfield. We've seen previous FC Alverca loanees Caiser Gomes and Lucão flourish in North Texas, hopefully Lacerda can follow suit.
Derek Waldeck (NTSC, 24 y/o) - Derek Waldeck (aka Capi, aka DW18) is already NTSC's all-time appearance leader and he returns for another season after originally joining the club following the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. Waldeck featured in every single game over the last two seasons, mainly lining up at left back. However, the Stanford grad has spent much of this preseason as a box-to-box midfielder. Regardless of his position, you know what you're getting from DW18: Consistency, leadership and a great smile.
Bernard Kamungo (NTSC, 19 y/o) - Bernard Kamungo returns for his second season with North Texas after originally joining the club via its open tryouts. Born in a refugee camp in Tanzania, Kamungo relocated with his family to Abilene, Texas where he played high school soccer until trying out for NTSC his senior year. He finished his first pro season in 2021 as the team's second top scorer with six goals, including the equalizer in NTSC's sole playoff game. A quick and tricky winger, Kamungo has seemingly made some big strides this offseason, earning regular starts in preseason and some first team training opportunities. Now with a year of professional training under his belt, Kamungo is primed for a strong 2022.
José Mulato (NTSC, 19 y/o) - Maybe the most intriguing player on the entire roster, forward José Mulato joins on a season-long loan from Deportivo Cali in Colombia after spending the last year with the FC Bayern World Squad. According to Bayern Munich, the World Squad is "a youth program organized by the German giants, bringing talents from across the world together, giving them a platform to showcase their talent and offer pathways to professional soccer" and they also made an interesting YouTube series from it. Anyway, Mulato joined NTSC thanks to the player development partnership with FC Dallas and he's clearly a promising player having trained with Bayern's first team last year. Mulato is still in Colombia so his North Texas debut is a few weeks away but he's definitely a player to keep an eye on this season.
Pablo Torre (NTSC, 18 y/o) - Forward Pablo Torre has the potential to be this year's Bernard Kamungo. The 18-year-old joined this offseason from Valley View High School in McAllen, Texas near the Mexico border. It's his first experience in a professional environment but Torre has already caught the eye of the coaching staff with his instinctive finishing and hard work off the ball. A tall, speedy center forward, Torre scored a great goal in the team's 4-2 loss to the University of Tulsa early in preseason and looks to be the in the starting conversation to open the season.
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