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Heat draws

Heat draws

OKC 1 Heat 1


By ADAM GEIGERMAN
LAREDO MORNING TIMES

The high-pressure defending that Oklahoma City FC brought to the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex on Thursday night almost cracked the Laredo

Heat’s hopes of making a ninth straight trip to the Premier Development League’s postseason.

Almost.

If not for a 71st minute miracle strike by goalproducing backliner Felipe de Souza, Laredo could not have split points with the Mid- South Division’s secondplaced team.

The Heat (6- 2-3, 21 points) entered the match trailing Oklahoma City (7-2-3, 23 points) by only two points in the standings – and ended the night in the same position with three matches remaining, while OKC only has two left. The Heat close it’s fixtures with a home-and-away series with Midland- Odessa and an away match at El Paso – two teams that are already eliminated from the playoffs.

Oklahoma City closes with a match against first place Austin – which has only lost to Laredo – and at the already eliminated Houston Dutch Lions.

Oklahoma City opened the scoring in the 39th minute off a blast by forward Stephen Owusu.

Nearly 10 minutes before that, Laredo’s Yair Hernandez charged through the OKC backline on a 1- on-1 breakaway with onlu goalkeeper Jennings Clark in front of him. He shot for the far post, but it didn’t carry enough curl and bounced innocently off the post.

The only other action from the loosely called first half was a 27th minute yellow card to Oklahoma City’s Scott Parkinson for a vicious slide tackle on Laredo’s Yosmel de Armas.

In the 45th minute, Laredo’s Greg Mulamba received a caution for a high boot against OKC.

The second half was all Laredo, possession-wise and shots-wise. Two hair-raising misses came two minutes apart in the 58th and 60th minutes. First Laredo’s Joao Montiero lashed a low, burning shot toward Oklahoma City’s net in hopes of equalizing. Then Heat captain Juan de Dios Ibarra launched a missile from outside the 18-yard box.

Both screeched just wide of the far post; both fell inches wide. Laredo finally found the answered it searched for when de Souza assaulted the ball from more than 25 yards out – something he’s become known for after a separate miracle against Midland-Odessa from midfield.

His blast bounced off the gloves of Clark. The second half saw many more cards fly out of the center official’s pocket. De Armas was sent off in the 85th minute, while Laredo’s keeper Emmanuel Frias and Gabriel Muniz both saw yellow in the 89th minute.

Oklahoma City’s Phil Pryor saw a caution in the 65th minute Laredo returns to action on Saturday at TAMIU when they host Midland-Odessa at 8 p.m. as it enters the final three games of the regular season.