Monday Morning: North Texas Wins
FC Dallas lost at home in a disappointing one, the US U20s fell apart, but North Texas finished strong. We catch you up on the weekend.
Happy Monday, folks.
While it was a busy weekend for FC Dallas junkies, North Texas SC salvaged us from the complete doom and gloom of disappointment.
On Sunday evening in Choctaw Stadium, North Texas put together a complete game for the first time in a while, moving their unbeaten run to six games. They kept a clean sheet as they stymied Los Angeles Galaxy 2 multiple times, and Anthony Ramirez scored a brace with excellent assists from Tomas Pondeca and Jose Mulato. Overall, it was a strong performance that put some disappointing collapses and rough starts behind them.
“Today we needed to compete and take advantage of their mistakes. In the first half we were running a lot so at halftime we modified a little bit. We improved and scored two goals,” Head Coach Javi Cano said. “We had to close our lines and the first goal was a counterattack. The second was about how many services we had from the wings. This was our plan. We need to learn that sometimes we need to be more organized and commit fewer mistakes. In this league, players are so young, and they make mistakes. We want to avoid that and if we can, we’ll get a lot of points this year.”
Anthony Ramirez actually scored his first MLS Next Pro goals. It was a worthy Man of the Match performance for the youngster, as North Texas as a whole has employed a next man up mentality in this stretch with the senior team hit by an injury bug.
I asked Ramirez how he wants to build off of this performance.
“I want to keep working, keep improving and keep fighting for the team. We’re focused on the next game coming up against Portland,” Tony said.
Defensively, the performance is worth building on for North Texas. If anything, they have been prone to mistakes that have dampened their ability to move up the standings. Tonight may have turned the page.
“We’ve been focused on that. Analyzing last game, maybe we conceded too many shots. This week, one of the focuses was conceding fewer goals and building that mentality,” Cano said. “If that means being in a low block, it doesn’t matter. It means that we squeeze the spaces and reduce their opportunities in our box. Sometimes, in past games, we tried to press high and were vulnerable and conceded more shots. Today we had less space and conceded fewer shots. Again, I’m happy for my players.”
FC Dallas Stumbles at Home
There’s already been enough said about this match, but it’s two straight losses for FC Dallas as they couldn’t find a result against red hot Nashville SC at home.
The go ahead goal for Nashville came through league MVP Hany Mukhtar, who essentially put Jose Martinez on the ground and slashed the ball through Maarten Paes for the goal.
Before that, it was youngster Nolan Norris with a mis-directed clearance that put Nashville ahead for an own goal. Really, despite making that mistake and earning a yellow card in the first half, Nolan played about as well as you can except for a youngster, especially when the team has few healthy options in the midfield at the moment and was missing Edwin Cerrillo due to yellow card accumulation.
FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez was very frustrated, since the team played fairly well and generated several chances.
“The result was not fair, we produced a game that should have resulted in a win tonight. We need to focus on capitalizing the chances we have as there were several opportunities that should have ended in a goal and we have to do better,” Nico said after the match.
Jader Obrian continued his great vein of form with two goals and an assist in his last three matches. Credit to the Colombian, who has looked out of sync with this team earlier in the season, providing some offensive firepower when they needed it the most.
It’s another two match week of sorts for FC Dallas, as they first finish out the game against St Louis FC that was halted due to a weather delay. Dallas definitely needs to find a way to get three points at home in that one to wash the disappointment away. Then they travel to Portland for the weekend.
US U20s Crash Out
Despite not giving up a goal thus far in the tournament, Uruguay did not take long to capitalize on mistakes against Justin Che and the US backline. In fact, despite being the team with shorter rest, Uruguay looked confident to torment the US most of the day. It’s not that the US played terribly, but they weren’t able to convert their possession into meaningful chances and looked flustered.
A second-half own goal from Joshua Wynder sealed the deal for Uruguay.
In some ways, you could argue that you want a young team like this to face some adversity earlier in the competition, so they don’t snatch at their chances when they go down later on.
With that said, it’s not a huge disappointment. The US showed well and advanced to the quarter-finals. They could have gone deeper, but it’s an excellent experience for a young side.
For FC Dallas fans, all eyes are on Justin Che. Did he do enough to impress a second tier squad who would be interested in a loan or purchase option? Is he headed back to FC Dallas?
I asked FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez about this earlier in the week, and the answer was essentially, “He wants to play in Europe, but we’d love to have him.”
We’ll wait and see.
We are looking forward to going live once again for the Afterburn Soccer Show this evening at 8 PM CST. See you there!
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