The Fort Worth Vaqueros FC begin their third season Saturday night with hopes it will become the franchise’s first winning campaign.
Last year the team finised 3-6-5, good for sixth in the South Central Conference of the National Premier Soccer League.
I can’t explain it, but we gave up bad goals in the dying minutes of games and either lost them or tied them.
Coach Mark Snell on the Vaqueros’ 3-6-5 record last season
The NPSL operates as a fourth-division league in the U.S. Soccer Federation and players retain their amateur status.
“The thing that sticks out on paper and in my mind for the last 12 months has been the five draws,” coach Mark Snell said. “For one reason or another, they were given up late in games. I can’t explain it, but we gave up bad goals in the dying minutes of games and either lost them or tied them.”
If fortunes are to reverse this year, it will be with an overhauled defense. With just one returning starter on the back line and the need to find a new No. 1 goalkeeper, defense was a priority in the off-season.
Carlos Enriquez and Zachary Downes will battle for time in goal. Enriquez was with the team last season while Downes was with the Arizona United of the USL.
Joseph Cervantes is the veteran of the defense and will be joined by a host of new faces such as FC Dallas Academy players Nicholas Rochowski and Milton Rosales, as well as college player Michael Klodzinski and Andrew Ojeda of Mansfield, who earned a spot on the roster through tryouts.
We didn’t have players confident enough to play out of the back last year. That’s one thing we spent a lot of time on in the off-season.
Snell likes his team to play fast and push the pace, which means defenders will not only be tasked with shutting down opposing offenses, but initiating the Vaqueros’ offense.
“We didn’t have players confident enough to play out of the back last year. That’s one thing we spent a lot of time on in the off-season,” he said.
The Fort Worth attack should benefit from a healthy Hilton Ngwa, who struggled through a nagging knee injury last season, but provided a spark to the offense once he returned.
The club also hopes University of Memphis player Julio Vargas can regularly put balls in the net once he becomes more acclimated with the team.
Coaches and players are exited and confident, but primarily just want to get the season started and see the anticipated improvement.
“There’s always that good nervous feeling when you start the season,” Snell said. “We’re really excited. We’ve been training for a long time and they’re kind of chomping at the bit to get into a real game.”
The Vaqueros play the first of their 12 regular-season matches at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against the Houston Regals SCA at Martin Field on the campus of Texas Wesleyan University.
Irving Nimitz HS
Juan Dario Carcamo
Dallas Jefferson HS
University of Central Arkansas
Collin County CC
Mountain View College
Tarrant County College
Dallas Texans Academy
University of Buea, Cameroon
Dallas Texans Academy
University of New Mexico
FC Dallas Academy
Northeast Texas CC
University of Memphis