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Heat wins Copa LareDOS

Heat wins Copa LareDOS

Heat beat Nuevo Laredo to begin season

The Laredo Heat like their cups chilled, it seems. The Heat secured one of the few trophies it has yet to claim, taking the Copa LareDOS from the Nuevo Laredo Bravos, 2-0, on a chilly Wednesday night at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex. The competition was officially pegged an international friendly, yielding no official statistics or results toward any league standings.

The biennial sister-city rivalry has been dominated by the Bravos – a member of the Mexican professional second division – with victories in 2009 (1-1, 5-2 PKs) and 2011.

The Heat were smooth and syrupy throughout the opening half, dominating possession and producing a goal just 3 minutes into the game while the Bravos were stuck in neutral.

Laredo newcomers Yosmel De Armas and Ljubomir “Lubo” Kocic connected for a goal of global proportions. De Armas, a former leftback for the Cuban Olympic qualifying team claiming asylum in the states, blazed his defender down the touchline before scorching a low-spinning cross into the 6-yard box. That cross found Kocic’s extended right foot, flicking the eventual game winner into the roof of the net.

Kocic, a U.S. citizen of Serbian decent, previously played for the University of the Incarnate Word and the North American Soccer League’s San Antonio Scorpions, while De Armas defected during the 2012 Summer Games qualifying in Nashville. His action with the Heat began his first competition since his defection.

Despite starting in fifth gear, the wide-open game slowed to a pedestrian pace until Nuevo Laredo’s Kevin Sanvicente blasted a late challenge on De Armas. Sanvicente was awarded a yellow card for his atrocity, but it was instantly upgraded to a red after he showed dissent to the official.

With Nuevo Laredo down to 10 men from the 19th minute on, Laredo maintained its backline shape and kept the Bravos playing keepaway. The Bravos mustered three shots before halftime, but none from inside 20 yards.

Laredo captain Johnny de Dios Ibarra buried the game’s final goal, a penalty kick in the 57th minute. Heat forward and United High alumnus Daniel Garza was brought down inside the Bravo’s 18-yard box, before Ibarra converted. Ibarra sent his spot kick looping to the left, with Nuevo Laredo keeper Bernardo Cardenas diving to the right.

Heat goalkeeper Emmanuel Frias made four sprawling fingertip saves to cleansheet the Bravos, who are wrapping up their Clausura season and should have been in top form. It was the first time Laredo clinched the cup in its four-year history.

The Heat, the defending Mid-South Division champions, open their Premier Development League regular season May 11 in Houston at the Dutch Lions. They then play at home on May 14 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with an opponent to be determined.