North Texas Prepares for Austin
In the final match of the season, North Texas looks for one more result over an in-state rival and something to build on for 2024.
Last weekend, North Texas SC found some measure of satisfaction in its first win against the Houston Dynamo 2, some consolation in a season that has not gone their way.
At home, they welcome Austin FC 2 and an opportunity to finish the year strong without playoffs against an in-state foe.
“Of course, everybody is happy with the win,” North Texas interim head coach John Gall said to media today about last weekend’s performance. “Start of the week was certainly elevated, but training has been really standard. Really happy with the boys’ mentality. This week has been the same, working hard.”
That turnaround in mentality is something Gall and staff have been looking to after the team dismissed former head coach Javier Cano as they looked to make up ground in postseason action. Unfortunately, the postseason is out of the question with this young squad, but there is still progress to be made.
The last time these two squads faced each other, Austin finished with a 3-0 win. This is something North Texas hopes to avoid.
“I don't think the word is fear - there are some things they do quite well. The last time we played them, there was a penalty after five minutes. We want to be careful about how we build and do things, understand how they are going to press us and make things difficult,” Gall said.
With the final game of the 2023 regular season on tap, there will be an extra incentive for North Texas players to make a case that they deserve a roster spot in 2024.
“I don't think it has been too many subtle hints. It's been pretty straightforward with the players every time they play and compete with North Texas. They are performing for their future. We certainly have held their feet to the fire,” Gall said. “You couldn't tell this team is not in the playoffs. The feeling is we wish we had a few more games to keep pushing. I think we would be the kind of team other teams wouldn't want to face.”
Indeed, while Austin FC 2 has their postseason place wrapped up, North Texas could still cause some chaos by preventing Austin from locking in their higher seed.
That’s some small bonus that could motivate this young squad.
With that said, 2024 looms large for a club that has been dominant at this level in recent years and will be very disappointed with the play this season. Some players will not be sticking around. Look for performances that show who belongs on Sunday and beyond.
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