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Heat Advance With Hometown Heroics

Heat Advance With Hometown Heroics

Laredoans push past Red Force despite hostile match

LAREDO, Texas – The Laredo Heat cemented a spot in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third round on Wednesday night with a 2-1 survival over the Red Force at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex. The Heat’s second round victory lines up a rematch from 2013’s Open Cup at the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

The bruising second round was anything but conventional as there were more straight red cards shown than goals scored. A pair of Laredoans linked up for the game-winning goal with less than 45 seconds remaining in regulation as both teams were reduced to nine men just before halftime. Daniel Garza slashed the Red Force’s backline off an in-stride delivery by Felix Garcia, netting the game-clinching strike in the 90th minute.

“Scoring that goal, everything that led up to it, it was like it was so well planned,” Garza said. “The run, the ball, the pass and the shot – they were all so perfect. This win is perfect – even though it may not have always looked perfect with all its events. But it was … perfect.”

Laredo’s Miguel Fernandez, a Spanish striker, christened his career with the Heat by way of a 24th minute penalty-kick conversion. He lowered a laser into the left netting after the Miami-based Red Force’s Scott Gordon was cautioned for dragging down Salvador Luna inside as he cut toward goal inside the 18-yard box.

A battle of the midfield developed through the remainder of the first half, with neither team producing attacks potent enough to worry either goalkeeper but emotions combusted just three minutes before the half. Chippy play development between Red Force’s Kevin Nylen and Laredo’s Fernandez, resulting in a contested play in the air before a skirmish eventually saw ejections dealt to Nylen and Heber Hernandez and Laredo’s Yair Hernandez and Joao Montiero – all for violent conduct.

The half finally ended with both teams whittled to play 45 minutes two men down. The Red Force opened the second half in control, policing the pace and piling pressure through the 65th minute. They broke through in the 66th minute with a right-side romping by Stiven Salinas. The shoulder-level strike swept past Laredo keeper Jorge Ortega and equalized the match at 1-all.

With level peggings and neither side wanting extra time, substitutions swelled. Laredo made two, with both marking nearly immediate impacts as Garza and Garcia entered with only a goal in their sights. The two second-half subs synced together just three minutes after Garza debuted.

Garcia turned loose a through ball from the center circle, feeding Garza’s flurrying feet just beyond the penalty box. Garza took one touch to the left before slotting a shot skipping into the bottom corner.

“When coach told me to start warming up because I was going in, I knew I was going to score,” Garza said. “It’s weird, but I just had a feeling – more than confidence. It was something truly special, seeing that pass come from Felix, feeling it at my feet and seeing the keeper off his line. It was all perfect for the strike and I’m glad I was the one to help the team advance.”

The Heat rode the final three minutes of stoppage time to victory and into the third round. Just a year ago, the Strikers – of the North American Soccer League – outlasted a 10-man Heat, 7-6, in a penalty kick shootout. The Heat equalized the 1-1 game in the 83rd minute, forcing extra time and the shootout and went beyond the minimum five rounds before finally being dispelled.

The Heat now hold an all-time Open Cup record of 3-2-1 (0-2 in PKs) after Wednesday’s result.

This year's Open Cup champion will earn a berth into the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League, $250,000 in prize money and have its name engraved on the historic Dewar Challenge Trophy. The runner-up will take home $60,000, while the team that advances the furthest from each lower division —including the Heat’s Premier Development League, a fourth division league – will earn a $15,000 cash prize.

Before the third round, the Heat will kick off their PDL season on May 17 against the Houston Dutch Lions at the TAMIU Soccer Complex at 8 p.m.

Each home game – both in the Open Cup and the PDL – will see the Heat offer four fans a chance at winning $500. If the randomly selected fans can bury an undefended penalty kick at halftime, they will win $400 for themselves and $100 to the evening’s selected benefactor.

About the PDL

The top developmental men’s league in North America, the 2014 PDL featured 64 teams within four conferences throughout the United States and Canada. The PDL season consists of 14 regular season matches for each team, seven home and seven away, and provides elite collegiate players the opportunity to taste a higher level of competition while maintaining their eligibility. In addition to league play, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various exhibitions. The PDL has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world.


For additional information on the tryouts, sponsorship opportunities, tickets, the Heat Club Card and the Laredo Heat Soccer Club, please contact the Heat Front Office at(956) 723 – 4700; visit our website at www.laredoheatsc.com , LIKE us on Facebookwww.facebook.com/laredoheatsoccer or Follow Us on Twitter @LaredoHeatSC.