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A Friendly Loss

A Friendly Loss

Thursday July 7, 2011 - Atlante FC shuts out Heat in exhibition

By ADAM GEIGERMAN
LAREDO MORNING TIMES
Published: Friday, July 8, 2011 3:48 AM CDT
Texas A&M International’s Soccer Complex played host to a near-capacity crowd as the Premier Development League’s Laredo Heat faced Atlante FC of the Mexican First Division in an international friendly.

Atlante’s visit, and eventual 3-0 victory, marked the first time the Heat have hosted a team of such high caliber.

“The most important thing about (Thursday’s game) was we worked hard,” Heat coach Israel Collazo said.

“It prepared us for the rest of our regular season games this season.

We gave Atlante a lot of resistance, but it was a good match.

“They controlled it, but it was a learning experience.”

The match was dominated by Atlante in every facet, as its constant possession and pressure trampled throughout Laredo’s half of the pitch.

Atlante superstar Francisco “Kikin” Fonseca played a significant role for the professional pedigreed offense, bombarding the goal in the 16th, 24th, 32nd and 37th minutes.

His blast in the 32nd minute was absorbed by Laredo’s defense inside the box, but Atlante’s Matias Cordoza wrangled the rebound and rocked the net with bodies strewn throughout the box.

Five minutes later, Fonseca found the net off his own foot, going 1-on-1 with goalkeeper Rodrigo Avila before stretching the Atlante lead to two-nil.

Before a ball ever found the net, Laredo threatened first.

Playing for a counter attack, Laredo burst through midfield on the feet of midfielder Gregory Mulamba.

He fed the ball to forward and team scoring-leader Esteban Bayona in a rush that produced a corner kick.

Five minutes later, forward Luis de la Vega launched a warhead from 30 yards out, only to rattle the crossbar in rejection.

“We put forth our best effort,” Collazo said.

“We have some injuries, but that’s not an excuse. I just hope more matches like this can come in the future.”

At the end of the first half, Atlante tallied five shots on goal and four corner kicks throughout its crushing pressure, while Laredo only had single marks in the shots, saves and corner categories.

The final half began with a much more pedestrian pace and saw substitutions aplenty.

Laredo played back in attempt to clam up Atlante’s energy, successfully too, until the 85th minute – a goal off the toes of forward Ezequiel Cuevas.

Laredo had scarce opportunities to light the scoreboard, most featuring Bayona as the only front man against three Atlante defenders.

Bayona broke away from the defensive line in the 53rd minute for what appeared to be a ball destined for the net, but Atlante goalkeeper Moises Munoz won the 1-on-1.

“We had some good chances in the match,” Collazo said.

“We just couldn’t put it in the goal. That’s okay; we saw some things we really liked (on Thursday).”

Avila produced a solid performance in goal for Laredo despite the three scores.

He sprawled near and farside, saving screaming balls with the tips of his gloves, keeping the match as close as it was in the scorebook.

Two stars missed the match, one for each side.

Former LBJ sensation Felix Garcia missed the game due to a hamstring injury but is slated to return for the Heat on Tuesday against Rio Grande Valley.

Christian “El Hobbit” Bermudez sat out for Atlante because of a lingering calf injury.