Midfielders Duncan McCormick and James Nosack have been double-trouble for their rivals, representing the tall and the short of the Seattle Sounders' attack in U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy Under-15/16 action.
The 5-10, 160-pound McCormick leads the Sounders in scoring from his position as an attacking midfielder, where he is complemented by the 6-2, 195-pound Nosack acting in more of a defensive posture.
With that duo at the helm, the Sounders have won 10 of their past 11 games with three shutouts on the way to a mark of 7-2-1 (12-3-2 overall) that leads the eight-member Northwest Division of the West Conference.
"They're mostly playing against three players and they've done quite well against those three, so that frees up everybody else as well," Sounders coach Dick McCormick said.
Although each is equally adept at both keeping possessions and generating the offense, there are subtle differences, if not preferences, in their styles of play.
"I play more of an attacking role, and he plays more of a defensive role," said Duncan McCormick, the coach's son, who leads the Sounders with six goals. "I think we combine really well, even though we're different players."
"But we work very well together," Duncan McCormick added. "We both try to play simple stuff. We're both good passers who are very strong in the air. But he's a big kid who's extremely good in the air because of his height and his strength. Almost all goal kicks and corners that come in, we will win. On the ground, I try to be as strong as I can, but he's also very strong on the ground."
Although he has scored three times this season, Nosack's defensive play was critical in helping to protect the team's 3-1 victory over the sixth-place California Development Academy (2-6-2, 6-11-3). McCormick's goal in the 14th minute of the match was sandwiched between those by midfielder Ryan Harber and forward Dennis Kalamar in the 13th and 22nd, respectively.
Harber and fellow defenders Kyle Bjornethun, Cody Cook, Jalen Markey and Mark Matula were instrumental in front of goalie Connor Adkisson.
"We win our tackles and invidual battles, but we always kind of have an understanding of where each of us is on the field. So when one of us pushes up on the attack, there's always one of us holding in the midfield to make sure that we're not getting counter-attacked," Nosack said.
"Duncan has a natural knack for scoring, and I can usually win the headers and win my individual battles in the air. Duncan is good at keeping the ball at his feet, but he's also really good in the air and on his tackles."
Like McCormick, midfielder Isidiro Prado-Huerta has six goals for the Sounders, followed by Kalamar with five, and four each from Markey and forward David Olsen.
This past weekend's results:
Central Conference Texas Division
Dallas Texans 1, Solar Chelsea 1: Toryima Asom gave the lead to the fourth-place Solar Chelsea (6-2-6, 8-4-7) in the 34th minute, but Cooper Whitfield knotted the game for the first-place Texans (10-0-4, 12-0-7) in the 80th minute on Saturday.
FC Dallas 1, Andromeda FC 1: Antonio Aguilar gave the lead to the second-place FC Dallas (6-3-6, 7-4-7) in the 14th minute, but Hayden Bahadoor scored the equalizer in the 35th minute for the seventh-place Andromeda (2-8-5, 2-13-5) on Saturday.