North Texas SC seemed to have its way on Saturday night as the Richmond Kickers fell 3-0 in front of 4,514 at City Stadium.
The Kickers have now lost four straight games.
“They just wanted it more,” said Maxi Rodriguez, Kickers captain. “Their desire was more.”
Despite controlling possession for 58% of the first half, the Kickers were outshot 6-4 and trailed 1-0 at the break. Ronaldo Damus drove to the net and tried to pass it out in front. Through the bounces and confusion, Dante Sealy was given a prime chance and took it to give North Texas the lead in the 27th minute.
North Texas eyed another goal as the half progressed. But a chance by Ricardo Pepi on a fast break was thwarted, as was a beautiful chance for Damus after a back-and-forth passing display that set up a point-blank shot.
The Kickers, though, after hanging tight through the first half, were visibly outplayed in the second half.
“We just are a team that lacks intensity,” Kickers coach David Bulow said. “We aren’t a very good defense team. We have moments where we don’t pay attention or switch off. It was the focus of this week.”
The Kickers did look to be in control early in the second half. However, when North Texas got the opportunity, it extended its lead. After receiving a pass in front of the net without a defender near, Pepi scored to make it 2-0.
The Kickers caught a break soon after when Pepi missed the net on a fast break that could’ve put the game further out of reach. In the 68th minute, Sealy broke into the box and dished the ball to David Rodriguez, who buried it to extend the lead to three goals.
The Kickers had their best chance of the game late, when Charles Boateng found Lucas Mendes in the box, but he just couldn’t put it in the back of the net. Joe Gallardo also had a prime opportunity that was stopped by North Texas goalkeeper Carlos Avilez.
Pepi was stopped by Richmond goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald in the fourth extra minute, as the Kickers avoided a four-goal deficit.
“Time for us to look in the mirror and really look at ourselves and see what we can do,” Rodriguez said. “We just regroup and look at the next game but take a hard look in the mirror because that wasn’t good enough.”
North Texas, which is currently the top team in the league, improved to 7-1-1 on the season. Richmond dropped to 3-5-2, but Bulow said that this game was different than the previous three.
“The three previous could’ve gone either way,” Bulow said. “We got outworked today.”
Saturday marked the first of three meetings this season between the two teams, with the next scheduled for July 13 at City Stadium.
The Kickers will face FC Tucson on the road next Saturday, looking for to avoid a five-game skid.
“I think we have to challenge the team to play at a higher level, especially when defending,” Bulow said. “We won’t make the playoffs if we continue to play the way we have the last four games.”
Richmond 0 0 — 0
North Texas 1 2 — 3
NT: Sealy 27, Pepi 63, Rodriguez 68
Saves: Fitzgerald (RIC) 3; Avilez (NTX) 3
Shots: North Texas 16-10
Corners: North Texas 4-3
Fouls: North Texas 18-13
Cautions: Sealey (NTX) 50th; Jatta (NTX) 55th; Gallardo (RIC) 81st; Boateng (RIC) 88th; Thomsen (RIC) 90th +3