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Heat advances in Open Cup

Heat advances in Open Cup

Stumps PSA 2-0

By ADAM GEIGERMAN
LAREDO MORNING  TIMES

The Laredo Heat followed one common theme on Tuesday night at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex. Everywhere they looked, the number two showed up.

With a 2-0 victory over the visiting PSA Elite Soccer Club in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Laredo qualified for its second consecutive second round.

It’s only the second time in the Heat’s ninth year in competitive existence that they’ve qualified for the second round. They were eliminated by the San Antonio Scorpions last year.

Laredo now must face the North American Soccer League’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on May 21.

The NASL is a second-tier professional league, just under Major League Soccer, and the Strikers are currently in second-to-last place with a 1-1-3 (4 points) record.

The Heat outclassed their USASA – a fully amateur league – opponents with flashes of speed down the flanks, but the deliveries by former Cuban international Yosmel De Armas and Monterrey, Mexico, native Yair Hernandez weren’t successfully finished.

Not until the 44th minute. United alumnus and Heat scoring stalwart Danny Garza found the ball on his left foot after a Laredo corner kick that was bounced from head to head inside the 18-yard box. He thrust his shot into the hands of PSA Elite goalkeeper Trevor Whiddon’s hands.

Despite looking like a secure save, the shotleaked through his grasp and dripped over the goal line to give the Heat a halftime advantage.

It wasn’t long before Laredo doubled its charge when Leo Medeiros launched an offensive of his own in the 47th minute.

He took a delivery from De Armas by the far post, burying it into the side net for the brace and final tally of the match.

The Heat are in the thick of a grueling stretch of play. Besides the first and second round U.S. Open Cup games spread a week apart, Laredo played to a 1-1 draw at the Houston Dutch Lions in its Premier Development League opener last Saturday.

It now must host the Midland-Odessa Sockers on Friday in their league home opener. The defending Mid- South Division champion Heat sit in a four-way tie for second place, with only the Austin Aztex claiming a 3-point victory over the weekend. Oklahoma City FC is in last place after losing to Austin.

The Heat burned PSA\Elite with precision passing and fierce footwork to dominate possession throughout the match. PSA was reduced to pushing into an offside-trap defensive formation with hopes of jumping into a footrace counter attack whenever they did see the ball.

PSA Elite was successful and consistent with their long-ball deliveries but, once with the ball, their attackers couldn’t unlock the Heat’s organized backline of Hernandez, De Armas and centerbacks Felipe de Souza and Camilo Botero.

Heat captain Johnny de Dios Ibarra and midfielding veteran Greg Mulamba controlled the center circle, working as the hinges in the Heat’s swinging attacks.

Although rare, when pressured by PSA Elite’s threats the Heat were warned twice for fouls and overzealous defense. De Souza was booked when he charged a dead-ball free kick, and midfielder Hector Vallejo took a yellow card for persistent infringement.

The Heat return to league action on Friday at 8 p.m. at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex before flying to Fort Lauderdale on Monday, according to Heat general manager J.J. Vela.

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