North Texas SC Win Penalty Shootout Against Los Angeles FC 2
In a back and forth affair, North Texas drew LAFC 2 with two goals apiece but managed to earn an extra point with a confident penalty kick shootout performance.
With Los Angeles FC 2 in town, North Texas SC knew there were points to be had at Choctaw Stadium.
After a thrilling second half and confident penalty kick shootout, the youngsters from Frisco walked away with 2 points for a slight boost in the MLS Next Pro standings.
In the first half though, LAFC 2 looked the better of the team. North Texas remained organized defensively and didn’t concede many opportunities, as Antonio Carrera and an unchanged back line from last week rejected their opponent’s opportunities. On the offensive side, despite a couple of decent opportunities, the effort didn’t look as bright.
Cue the second half changes as Hope Aveyevu, coming off of a thigh injury, entered the match and instantly made an impact. Hope served up an assist to Diego Garcia who chipped LA’s keeper to put North Texas in front. And for several minutes, the home team looked to be in control.
Los Angeles equalized in the 81st minute, but with Tomas Pondeca on and giving a little extra energy, Pablo Torres went on the fastbreak and coolly slotted the ball past the keeper. Once again, North Texas looked in control, but a late stunner from outside of the box, with more than a bit of luck to it, sealed a point for the visitors.
“We know LAFC who love the ball. We let their centerbacks have possession. We started with some pressure. One or two times, they touched the box. The idea was not to get exposed. They wanted to put wingers wide. We tried to avoid this. We were running a lot. We didn’t check our distance between lines. When we tried pressuring, we stretched the team,” Cano said about the team’s performance. “In the second half, we tried to change things. We scored two and they scored two. It was unlucky - the second goal.”
North Texas SC has had a habit of dropping points with early mistakes or late blunders that have cost them valuable points. Cano has preached patience with his team, which has shown some work, but the results have slowed the team’s rise. But is it just bad luck, which some of the bounces seem like, or is it just come with a young group of guys gaining valuable minutes?
“Maybe we can better control the game. When you are working with young players, sometimes being nervous is part of the game. We scored. The players started to play with a little bit of a rush,” Cano said. “We were playing with our heart not our brain.”
It was a disappointing end to the 90 minutes for this young squad, and with their recent form in the penalty kick shootouts following draws in Next Pro, the weight of the moment might have seemed heavy.
I asked Coach Cano what he said to the team before they went out to the PK shootout.
“My last two team talks were about confidence. We need to grow into confidence. When we were born, we were born without confidence. Our confidence grows through adversity,” Cano said, referencing the bad streak of losing recent shootouts. “Tonight, we want to break it.”
The squad responded with confidence and broke the bad streak. Antonio Carrera was really active, talking to his teammates and passing on his energy and encouragement. Finally, late in the shootout, Antonio saved a shot from an LAFC 2 player, and Tyshawn Rose stepped up and slotted the ball in for the extra point. It was a moment of relief for these young players.
Pablo Torre, brimming with confidence off of his first MLS Next Pro goal, spoke about the ways his team needs to continue to grow.
“For me, it is to be more focused for the full game,” Pablo said. “You don’t know when they are going to score. Sometimes, we are up, sometimes down.”
North Texas SC travel to Tacoma on July 9 for their next crucial match of the season.
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