Monday Notes: FC Dallas & North Texas Battle to Away Draws
FC Dallas found a last minute header to steal a point in San Jose, and North Texas SC come from two down to equalize in St Louis over the weekend.
Welcome back to Afterburn Soccer.
If you have noticed, it’s been a bit slower around here due to some scheduling issues and my day job heating up. We missed last week’s show due to some issues and are working out whether to do a show today on Memorial Day. Stay tuned.
But we have some delicious content coming your way.
FC Dallas Steal a Point on the Road
Nkosi Tafari continues to emerge as a fan favorite for his ability to carve out something special from time to time, and in a decent performance on the road for FC Dallas, his delicious header over the Quakes keeper meant Dallas would not leave San Jose empty-handed. It was stunning moment of play, and at least in the moment, felt like Dallas snuck out with a point.
But after looking back at the stats, post-game comments, and highlights, FC Dallas probably deserved something, at least a point. San Jose’s goal came off of a mistake, the kind of defensive miscue that Dallas has been trying to eliminate. But Dallas had chances to score, and if not for the woodwork, Jesus would have scored earlier on.
Really, Dallas is playing well on the road. They aren’t getting blown out. They aren’t making the huge mistakes that they did in the past. Nico is trusting his guys and finding ways, even in the midst of a glut of injuries, to figure out results.
I was a bit down in my instant reaction to the match, but hindsight puts things in perspective.
“I think the team played with a lot of personality today,” Nico said after the match. “We controlled the game totally, had the (majority of) possession and made good chances. We were controlling the game and this is why we have to give credit to this group. If you want to be a top team, it’s not easy. It’s not easy to get wins. Even though the team did a lot of good things today and deserved more than we got, we conceded a goal in a very unlucky way.”
What to watch for? FC Dallas will hope to get healthier this week. There is a chance both Geovane Jesus and Sebastian Lletget will begin to work their way back into practice. It will be a boost to have both players available. We are also a bit concerned about Paxton Pomykal, who has had some knocks in recent weeks.
It’s going to be a brutal week, as the team plays Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday on the road, and then welcomes Nashville at home in a hopeful revenge match.
North Texas SC Climbs Out of a Deficit
On the road against St Louis City 2, North Texas lost their minds again, giving up a sloppy goal that put them in the hole around the 3rd minute. The team would allow St Louis a free header not much later and look to be in dire straits, but credit to this young team, missing senior players, to fight back through a goal from Nayrobi (who is legit) and later Diego Pepi, who grabbed his first North Texas goal.
Tyshawn Rose would earn a second yellow and hit the showers early.
At that point, North Texas SC was mostly happy to ride out for the away draw.
For such a young team, the performance deserves some appreciation. Playing the road is hard. St Louis City has been improving. Stumbling out of the gate and putting yourself in a deficit early doesn’t make life easier. But this young team, full of energy, trying to prove themselves, made something out of nothing.
“My feelings from the match are totally different from the previous ones. At halftime the team talk was very clear, that we need to be organized, fight, and wait for our moments to win the game,” Head Coach Javi Cano said afer the match. “The positives were that the team came back with young players and people playing in different positions. We didn’t give up, we waited, pressed well and only gave them one good chance at the end. We were in control of the ball and, of course, I wanted to attack more, but at that moment we needed to solve the problem which we did really well.”
Something to watch for? North Texas has lost three straight penalty kick shootouts. I asked Diego Pepi about this after the game, and while he admitted that the team practiced them, it’s kind of, in his words, “a lottery”. It’s mostly about luck, so maybe the team needs to keep plugging away and trust that the results will come.
In a congratulatory note to self, I didn’t ask Diego about any inside rumors around his brother Ricardo Pepi’s imminent potential transfer to a new club in Europe. Let the youth have his moment as his goal was really a smart bit of play.
Cano mentioned after the match that with Tyshawn Rose out and with other senior team players needed for a busy week, they are going to have figure out another option at leftback in a hurry. They will welcome LA Galaxy 2 on Sunday back at Choctaw Stadium.
Team of the Week
One more thing, Nkosi Tafari made MLS Team of the Week for his performance against San Jose. Nice.
We may get into it on the pod, but FC Dallas has the potential to land some extra cash this summer if both Ricardo Pepi and Bryan Reynolds move to new clubs. There is a lot of good talk about both of them that is shifting from whispers of smoke to a heated up market. It could be good timing as FC Dallas gets poised for a run to the playoffs (and hopefully beyond).
AFTERBURN SOCCER is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.