FRISCO—North Texas SC welcomes Forward Madison FC to Toyota Stadium for its second USL League One match of the season on Saturday, April 13 at 9:30 PM. The game is part of the first of four doubleheaders with FC Dallas included in its League One season, with the game kicking off right after the completion of FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers.
North Texas SC had a memorable win to open its first League One season two weeks ago when the Chattanooga Red Wolves visited Frisco. The team got an early lead through 16-year-old forward Ricardo Pepi who capitalized on a slight mix up between the Red Wolves’ defense and goalkeeper to score the club’s first-ever goal. Unsatisfied with his one goal, Pepi continued to press Chattanooga’s backline throughout the game and eventually was rewarded with two more goals from close range to complete USL League One’s first hat trick. Although Eric Quill’s men gave up two late goals, North Texas was able to hang on and won 3-2.
Forward Madison fell to the Chattanooga Red Wolves 1-0 in its inaugural USL League game, but the team’s performance probably deserved at least a point—if not all three. Madison controlled most of the game, ending with 67 percent of the possession and almost twice as many shots—11 to Chattanooga’s six. Despite Madison’s overall dominance, Chattanooga grabbed the win with their only shot on goal when Eamon Zayed latched on to Steven Beattie’s bouncing pass and volleyed his team in front in the 67th minute.
Saturday’s match is poised to be an interesting battle between two possession-based teams. Both North Texas and Madison each had over 60 percent possession in their first games and were the two highest passing teams over the first week with 573 and 618 passes respectively. Similarly, both clubs have the highest pass success rate in League One with North Texas completing 86 percent of their passes and Madison 87 percent—the next closest being Toronto FC II with 81 percent. Saturday’s game could very well be decided by which team establishes their signature passing game more effectively.
Players to Watch
For North Texas, the obvious player to watch is Ricardo Pepi. The teenager announced himself to League One on the opening weekend by scoring the league’s first-ever hat trick. Aside from his goals, Pepi worked tirelessly pressing Chattanooga’s backline and combined well with his teammates in the build up with quick passes and clever flicks. Currently League One’s top scorer, Pepi is the undisputed player to keep an eye on for North Texas on Saturday.
Paulo Junior is Forward Madison’s player to watch on Saturday. Although he was unable to find the net against Chattanooga, the Brazilian forward looked dangerous cutting inside from the left wing onto his stronger right foot. He had two of Madison’s four total shots on target and, despite playing as his team’s second most advanced player behind striker Mason Toye, put in a solid defensive shift contributing three tackles, two blocked shots and one clearance.