FRISCO - North Texas Soccer Club has performed well in its first season in USL League one. It has a 4-point cushion at the top of the table, while also holding the best goal differential. But now, for the first time this season, there are signs that North Texas might be feeling the pressure.
After a blistering start to the season, including seven wins in a row at home, North Texas has started to scuffle. With leading scorer Ronaldo Damus on the injury list and Ricardo Pepi in the midst of a scoreless streak, NTSC’s offense has struggled. After 13 games in a row with at least one goal, it was shutout against Greenville in Toyota Stadium. While a good result against Richmond suggested that the scoreless draw might have been an anomaly, two more scoreless games at home made it clear that was not the case.
Its last game was a rematch against Greenville, and NTSC suffered its first home loss of the year, going down 4-0. There were some fairly important extenuating circumstances, as Edwin Cerrillo was dismissed in the first half for North Texas’ first red card of the year. However, that does not hide the fact that in its last three home games the team has failed to score.
“We are just grinding through it,” said captain and center back Brecc Evans about the rough patch. “It was bound to happen. We are open to the challenge. Just working hard in training and it will come out in the game.”
“Once we get a goal we can overcome that rough patch and put it behind us,” Evans said when discussing the stretch of 270+ minutes of not scoring at home.
It has not been for lack of trying, as NTSC had 25 shots in the two games prior to the 4-0 loss. However, the conversion rate has been poor, as only 20% of those shots were on target.
Playing a man down against a tough opponent was a new challenge for NTSC, who has preferred to be the aggressor in all its games so far. Even though it spent most of the game at a disadvantage, it still had the majority of possession.
“Getting the red card was tough, but if you watch the game before the red card for the first 20 minutes, we were dominating them,” Evans said. “Those offensive concepts [we worked on in training] were coming out, but the red card changed it. We need to be smarter, and know when we go down a man in the center of the midfield that it’s better to play for the point.”
“We are a young team, and we have never had that experience before,” Evans pointed out.
In a team that features many players who are having their first taste of professional soccer, there is bound to be some new challenges. In fact, the oldest player in the starting 11 was 22-year-old Callum Montgomery, while also featuring multiple players who are still teenagers.
“We know that at the top of the table, we have a target on our backs and that people circle the game on their calendar, but we want to rise to the challenge,” Evans said.