After six weeks of the inaugural USL League One season, North Texas SC leads the pack with an unblemished record through four games to sit atop the standings. Here’s what we learned from the past weekend of action in League One.
ALONE AT THE TOP: After starting the season with three consecutive home wins, North Texas SC faced its biggest test of the campaign thus far when it visited Greenville Triumph SC at Legacy Early College on Saturday. Not only was it the side’s first road contest of the season but North Texas made the trip without standout forward Ricardo Pepi, who was called into U.S. U-17 camp ahead of the Concacaf U-17 Championship later this month. Yet, even without the league’s leading scorer, North Texas persevered. Thomas Roberts’ first-half strike was enough to help Head Coach Eric Quill’s squad pull out a 1-0 victory to continue its 100 percent start to the season ahead of next Saturday’s home date with Orlando City B.
DRY SPELL: On the other side of that result, Saturday’s 1-0 defeat marked the third straight contest that Triumph SC failed to find the back of the net. Greenville has managed just three goals in its six games so far this season and has not scored since Jake Keegan’s game-winner in the 74th minute of its 1-0 win against Chattanooga Red Wolves SC on April 13. Head Coach John Harkes’ side has done well defensively to accumulate seven points despite the struggles in front of goal, but that will have to change if it wants to climb up the table.
NOT THIS TIME: With only 10 teams in League One, there were bound to be some scheduling oddities throughout the league’s inaugural season. One of those have played out this past weekend as the Richmond Kickers and Lansing Ignite FC met for the third and final time this year. The Kickers hadn’t much enjoyed the first two encounters – losing 3-2 on the opening weekend and 3-1 in Week 3 – and looked set for a similar fate as they conceded twice in the second half after Dennis Chin gave the home side a lead at the break. In the game’s dying moments however, Daniel Jackson produced a moment of magic with a brilliant turn and shot from 25 yards out that found the top-left corner to give the Kickers a point and help them avoid the season’s first sweep.
FLOCK OF GOALS: North Texas SC may stand alone as the league’s last remaining unbeaten team, but it didn’t earn that title all on its own. Forward Madison FC helped the cause by handing Toronto FC II its first defeat of the season on Saturday. Paulo Júnior wrote his name into the Madison record book with the first goal at home venue Breese Stevens Field in club history and efforts from Carter Manley and Don Smart followed as the Flamingoes earned a 3-1 victory. The win was Madison’s first on home soil in club history and saw the club more than double its goalscoring output on the season.
SET PIECE SPECIALIST: Devin Vega has only played in a pair of games so far this season FC Tucson, but he sure has been making the most of his opportunities. The 20-year-old midfielder has been especially prolific from set pieces, dispatching his second free kick of the season on Tuesday in his side’s 2-0 victory over Lansing Ignite FC. Vega looks set to stamp his name as the league’s marksman from dead-ball situations as Toronto FC II midfielder Luca Petrasso is the only other player in the league to score directly from a free kick so far this season.