Six long seasons. Five second-place finishes. Two previous three-peat league title winners. The numbers have never been kind to fans of Texas FC. That is, until today. With their 7-0 drubbing of Turquoise Shadows, the club finally achieved its first US Division One title. The blue and white ribbon-laden trophy was lifted by captain Sayed Hasni to the cheers of a packed NRG Stadium.
This has no doubt been a long time coming for both the club and manager Adam, who have both been searching for that elusive top-flight league title. For Texas fans, finally coming out on top over constant challengers Black Dragons and First Boxers was a welcome sight. With both teams having won the league three times, the Texans would no doubt be fighting off those two looking to make history. With that being said, Texas FC has now made history themselves, having up to this point held the highest points total in the history of the the First Division to never win it. But now, all that is finally over – they have broken their duck. With six points separating Texas from Dragons, the math is finally on their side. For Adam, this has been an incredibly long process, but a labor of love – he has been working to bring a title to the club since his arrival in the preseason of Season 15.
We sat down with Adam to discuss the season, the victory, and what is to come, in an exclusive interview covered below.
USDN: "How are you and the team feeling right now, after not being able to lift the title for so long? And what does it mean for you personally, your first top-flight title in your entire career?"
Adam: "The boys are fired up. 5 second place finishes in the last 6 seasons really starts to wear on you. Doubt creeps in and you wonder if you'll ever have your moment. This group made sure they saw it through. Some of these guys have been here a long time and been through it all. This is [Kannan] Mohar's 15th season at the club - I'm ecstatic for guys like him to finally experience this feeling. For me, this is a stepping stone. Another box checked off. It feels great, but there's more to do. We've not had any sort of success in the Champions Cup - that's the next step we'll be looking to take."
There are others who have also been long-time servants to the club, dating back to when the club was still competing in Spanish competitions. TJ Rakotondramanana came from Union Omaha, now called Giant Hawks, in Season 22. Aziz Hassan moved in Season 21. Kassim Adam arrived in Season 20. Sebastian Danauskas came in Season 19, as did Lee Byers. The experience of these players was crucial to their eventual success.
USDN: "Can you speak more to what made this season different for you than past ones – either positive or negative, internal or external?"
Adam: "Well, the league is always evolving, so just making sure we're keeping up with the times. We made some tactical changes throughout the season that worked out for us. We have strong leaders that kept everyone focused, and we had some young guys step into larger roles to make us more well rounded. We're leading the division in goals, which is something we haven't done recently, so I think that may have been the deciding factor this season."
As of the time of writing, Texas FC have scored 107 goals. They also boasted the 2nd best defense in the league this term, only coming up short in comparison to Black Dragons. But the Dragons scored a measly 91 goals, even less than First Boxers in third.
USDN: "Is there any animosity between you and some of the other top managers in this league? You mentioned the 5 second place finishes, do you think that caused any hard feelings?"
Adam: "I don't feel any animosity towards any of the managers in the league. It's not like we were finishing 2nd to teams that were inferior to us[...] No, the teams finishing ahead of us have always deserved it and had strong squads. I want to see this league grow in stature, so I'm always rooting for our sides in the international competitions. I want to congratulate Black Dragons and First Boxers for making the semi-finals of the Champions Cup and Super Cup [respectively]. It's the next step we need to take as a league."
USDN: "You touched on it a bit already, but what is next for this group of players and the club, either specifically or broadly? And seeing as how the past champions each managed to win the league three times going, do you think this is the start of your own dynasty of sorts?"
Adam: "I'm taking nothing for granted. Dragons and Boxers will still have very strong squads come next season, not to mention teams like Baltic Lynx, Wonder Peppers, Magnificent Frigatebirds, and FC Nike who are all capable of taking points off of anyone. Nothing is guaranteed. We'll have everyone back next season [no retiring players], so there's no reason we can't challenge for the title again. We'll look to strengthen parts of the squad if the right deals are available, but i'm pretty happy with where we stand right now. Our minimum goal next season will be to get out of the group stage of the Champions Cup and challenge for the league title again. That's what the fans expect, that's what the players expect, and that's what I expect. We'll work hard to get it done."
Overall, the noise coming out of the Texas camp is positive towards the future. Finally breaking the streak of coming so close feels good, but Adam, wisely, has his head in the future of the club. For now, though, they will celebrate their victory, and ascendance to the highest echelon of the American game.
Congratulations to Texas FC on their title, and good luck to all teams as the final day approaches.Note: We here at USDN strive for both accuracy and timeliness in our reporting. If you notice an error in our publication, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We will aim to correct our mistake as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding and for your loyal readership.