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Laredo hosts Sockers tonight

Laredo hosts Sockers tonight

First PDL Season Home Game

By ADAM GEIGERMAN
LAREDO MORNING  TIMES

It may not feel like it, but tonight marks the Premier Development League home opener for the Laredo Heat.

The defending Mid-South Division champions host the Midland-Odessa Sockers at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex for an 8 p.m. kickoff.

Despite tonight being the league home opener, the Heat hosted PSA Elite Soccer Club on Tuesday at TAMIU in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup first round match and played at theouston Dutch Lions last Saturday.

Both were thrilling in their own regard. The Heat (0-0-1, 1 point) looked well on their way to a season-opening loss in Houston, but Univeristy of the Incarnate Word freshman and Heat newcomer Alejandro De La Garza delivered a compensation- time equalizer to escape with a point. De La Garza, a Sharyland High alumnus, came on as an midfielding substitute in the 76th minute.

With the Cardinals in 2012, De La Garza played 18 games (10 started, 1,035 minutes played), scoring eight goals and three assists on 51 shots (19 on frame). The Cardinals finished 15-4-1 (5-0-1 Lone Star Conference).

On Tuesday, the Heat played their second game in four days, dispatching PSA Elite, 2-0, to qualify for the second round of the Open Cup — a domestic tournament equivalent to the English FA Cup or Spainish Copa del Rey with any U.S. Soccer Federation member team able to qualify, ranging from fully amateur to Major League Soccer teams.

United alumnus and Heat veteran forward Danny Garza scored the first and eventual game-winning goal for Laredo in the 44th minute. Heat newcomer and University of Texas- Brownsville senior Leo Medeiros scored the team’s brace in the 47th minute.

Medeiros was credited with the assist on Garza’s goal, while former Cuban international Yosmel De Armas assisted on Medeiros’ goal.

The Heat also hosted the Copa LareDOS, an international friendly against the Nuevo Laredo Bravos, on April 24. The Heat won that home match 2-0, defeating their sister-city rivals for the first time in the biennial competion’s history.

The Bravos compete in the second division of Mexican professional soccer. Garza also scored in that match.

Tonight’s opponent is level in the league table with the Heat after both teams escaped their openers with draws. The Sockers (0-0-1, 1 point) hosted the El Paso Patriots on Saturday, finishing in a 2-2 draw.

The Sockers needed only 12 minutes to take the lead in that game, scoring when second- year veteran and team captain Andres Maldonado scored on a low drive from six yards out after a cross from midfielder Vitales Atemafac.

They doubled their pace in the 39th minute when Jose Anchondo set up Len Smith III from 11 yards, but let it all fall to waste when El Paso’s Naoyas Aizawa and George Lara netted a second-half pair to equalize on the road.

The Heat and Sockers sit in a four-way tie with El Paso and Houston for second place. Only ahead of that quartet are the Austin Aztex (1-0-0), who claimed a 3-point victory over Oklahoma City FC over the weekend.

Oklahoma City FC (0-1-0, 0 points) is in last place. With the Heat’s first round Open Cup victory, they will depart for a second round match against the North American Soccer League’s Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Strikers next Tuesday — the team’s fourth match in a grueling 11-day span. The NASL is a second-division professional league — just under the MLS — and the Strikers (1- 1-3, 4 points) are currently second-to-last in the league table, holding a -4 goal differential.

If the Heat come away from Florida with a victory, thus qualifying for the Open Cup’s third round, they would host FC Dallas of the MLS at TAMIU on May 28.

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