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Heat Prepare for Difficult Mid-South

Heat Prepare for Difficult Mid-South

Laredo focuses on next goals after opening draw

 

LAREDO, Texas – Just 72 hours after a dramatic climax in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the Laredo Heat opened their Premier Development League season with a draw against the visiting Houston Dutch Lions on Saturday night. Last Wednesday saw Laredo upend the upstart Red Force, 2-1, off a 90th-minute winner to advance to the Open Cup’s third round.

 

The peaks and valleys of emotion are common in the sport, but the Heat (0-0-1, 1 point) can only claim one point in league play after Saturday’s result, tabbing them as pursuers rather than pursuants in the hotly contested Mid-South Division. The Heat have won the division six times in 10 years, but not since 2012. Last year’s national champion Austin Aztex (2-0-0, 6 points) laid claim to the divisional crown en route to their PDL title – losing only to Laredo in their otherwise unbeaten season.

“Obviously we’re upset we didn’t get the three points (against Houston), but there are a lot of games ahead of us,” Laredo forward Esteban Bayona said. “There are a lot of new players and a lot of international boys trying to find the vibe of the Latin soccer we play here. We’re still trying to vibe and find a chemistry, but for the first game it’s not bad.

“I thought we did well other than a few mental mistakes.”

The Heat are eyeing a return to glory, but find themselves in a 5-point hole with a game in hand against their rivals of only 230 miles to the north. The Aztex defeated the Dutch Lions 5-0 on May 10 and beat the Midland-Odessa Sockers 2-1 on Saturday.

Those same defeated Sockers (0-1-0, 0 points) visit Laredo at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex on May 21 searching for their first positive result of the season – much like Saturday’s Dutch Lions.

Knowing what’s in front of them – in the form of the top-of-the-table Aztex and the second-top Mississippi Brilla (1-0-0, 3 points) – the Heat hold one simple objective: finding the back of the net. The Heat have scored three goals (all competitions) through two games, but two have fallen from the penalty spot. The one run-of-play goal came at the death of the Red Force match, via 87th-minute substitute Daniel Garza.

The Heat’s scoring record is not for not trying, as they levied 12 shots on Houston goalkeeper Emmanuel “Bebo” Frias and forced him into five saves.

Other than the Aztex, the Mid-South is overly composed of defensive, counter-attacking teams that have become experts in absorbing pressure from the Heat and Aztex while capitalizing on the few mistakes the divisional leaders make. Houston earned a point on Saturday via play like that and the Heat expect the Sockers to pose a similar threat.

“We know we will face teams that like to sit back in their half and wait for one chance,” Heat captain Juan de Dios Ibarra said. “These teams (in the Mid-South) are always difficult to score on because of that. We thought (Houston) would play with all their team in the back and take advantage of one mistake like they did. It’s good we at least got a point, but we need to find ways to score against teams that play this way.”

The Heat’s next chance comes against the Sockers on May 21 with an 8 p.m. kickoff.

The match will be streamed live and for free at www.YouTube.com/LaredoHeatSC.  

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.

Mid-South Division Table

Pts

GP

W

L

T

GF

GA

W

L

T

GF

GA

W

L

T

GF

GA

Austin Aztex  

6

2

2

0

0

7

1

1

0

0

5

0

1

0

0

2

1

Mississippi Brilla  

3

1

1

0

0

2

1

1

0

0

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

Laredo Heat  

1

1

0

0

1

1

1

0

0

1

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

Houston Dutch Lions  

1

2

0

1

1

1

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

1

6

Midland/Odessa Sockers FC  

0

1

0

1

0

1

2

0

1

0

1

2

0

0

0

0

0


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 Facebook www.facebook.com/laredoheatsoccer or Follow Us on Twitter @LaredoHeatSC.