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Laredo set to chose its ending

Laredo set to chose its ending

Plays tonight in El Paso

By Adam Geigerman
Laredo Morning Times

Tonight could be the clincher.

If not, Saturday will certainly be the endgame.

The Laredo Heat hold the wheel that will either steer to their ninth consecutive playoff appearance or the club’s first elimination from making the playoffs in its history.

With two matches remaining — both away, at El Paso tonight and Midland-Odessa on Saturday — Laredo (7-2-3, 24 points) needs to separate itself from Oklahoma City FC (7-4-2, 23 points), who was relegated into an outside-looking-in position after Laredo’s 1-0 home victory over El Paso on Saturday.

OKC has only a game remaining, against Houston at home on Saturday, but could already be eliminated by then.

If Laredo claims a victory and the trio of road points that would include, Oklahoma City will trail by an unsurrmountable four points — meaning no result on Saturday could save it.

If Laredo does worse than a win, by drawing or losing to the already eliminated Patriots, it will still have a pair of scenarios that would push it into the playoffs in Austin on July 26-27.

If the Heat beat the also-eliminated Sockers on Saturday or if Houston beats OKC on Saturday, Laredo would be clear.

If Laredo were to lose both its final games and OKC won its finale, OKC would go through while Laredo failed to qualify.

If Laredo lost its final matches and Houton and OKC draw in their match, the two teams would end up tied at 24 points apiece.

The tiebreaker would go to goal differential, which Laredo holds a huge lead over Oklahoma City in. Laredo would qualify while first-year team OKC would not.

All in all, tonight’s match in El Paso will either turn up the temperature on the Heat or alleviate the potential pressure before a win-or-go-home two-day tournament in Austin.

The biggest danger for the Heat tonight may not even focus on the pitch.

Instead, the built up passion between these two sides resulting in three brutal battles on the field.

In last Saturday’s match, Laredo and El Paso rack up bookings in the referee’s game log.

The first 70 minutes of the Heat’s hosting of El Paso was rather pedestrian, with neither team scoring, despite an evenly taken four shots apiece.

The only action on the scoresheet was an accumulation of cautionary bookings.

El Paso’s Eric Hernandez and George Lara received yellow cards in the 16th and 18th minutes, respectively.

El Paso’s Naoyas Aizawa saw a red card in the 86th minute.

Laredo also saw cards fly against Yair Hernandez, Vcmor Eligwe, Camilo Botero and Gabriel Muniz in the match.

Overall, El Paso has been whistled for 102 team fouls this season, while also receiving several warnings and ejections in a dust up with Midland-Odessa in June.

With nothing to play for but pride, a down-and-out El Paso may try to play an over-physical match on its way to getting inside the Heat’s collective head.

With the burden of pushing toward the playoffs, Laredo needs to exhibit its self control tonight in order to keep its teamsheet stocked for the season finale on Saturday.

Austin named host

The Aztex have been named hosts of the Southern Conference championships, set to take place at House Park on July 26-27.

The Aztex (10-1-1, 31 points) clinched the Mid-South Division title after a 4-0 victory over Oklahoma City last Saturday night and finished their regular season with a perfect home record of 7-0-0. The Aztex outscored their opponents at home by a margin of 23 to 3.

The Southern Conference championships are a single-elimination playoff consisting of the top two teams from the Mid-South and the Southeast Division.

The Aztex will represent the Mid-South Division along either the Laredo Heat or Oklahoma City, pending results of games this week.

The Southeast Division will be represented by the Panama City Beach Pirates and the Ocala Stampede. Matchups and kickoff times will be announced at a later date.

“The Aztex are excited to host the Southern Conference playoffs in front of our home fans and to welcome the other finalists to Austin,” said Rene van de Zande, who joined the team as an owner prior to the season.

“Being from Europe originally, I have been impressed with the quality of play.

Our guests all feature talented players on well-coached teams, so regardless of the final pairings, fans can expect to see three great matches.

Playoff tickets will cost $10 per adult, with children 10-and-under admitted free.