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Heat Strike Series of Firsts, Including Team of the Week

PHOTO BY KIARA RIOJAS | LAREDO HEAT SC
PHOTO BY KIARA RIOJAS | LAREDO HEAT SC

Ibarra, Bayona perform into national recognitions

LAREDO, Texas – Wednesday night served the Laredo Heat a series of firsts in their search for a seventh Mid-South Division championship in 10 years. With their 2-0 dictating of the Midland-Odessa Sockers, Laredo (1-0-1, 4 points) chiseled its first victory of the year and first clean sheet for Premier Development League rookie goalkeeper Jorge Ortega while thrusting itself to second in the Mid-South table, behind only the Austin Aztex (2-0-0, 6 points).

With equally inspiring strikes in each half, the Heat quickly engineered a finishing form to punctuate their already dominant possession-oriented style of play. Miguel Fernandez surgically sliced through the Sockers’ backline, off a feed from Felix Garcia, taking one touch before spearing his strike past keeper Clint Long.

The goal is Fernandez’s first in PDL play, but second in all competitions.

Esteban Bayona – a striker with professional pedigree after playing two seasons with the San Antonio Scorpions of the second-division North American Soccer League – iced the victory with a 70th minute stabbing from just outside the 18-yard box. In his second goal in as many games, Bayona capitalized off a sickening clearance from Long to strong arm an interception before chipping the off-his-line Long.

The pair of winning goals come from two of the Heat’s most tested veterans. They claim two of only eight allowed slots for over-23-years-old players to each PDL team, but they bring an instrumental level of leadership and veteran composure to the young and diverse Heat.

“This team is all talent – it doesn’t matter your age,” Bayona said. “Some of our best players are also our youngest or the newest to this system and league. The Heat do a good job constructing the chemistry on and off the field. For us, no matter how old you are, it’s all about playing the game.”

Ortega, the Heat’s 20-year-old backstop, is one benefitting most from his veteran strikeforce. Through 180 minutes in front of goal, the former Tigres de la UANL academy keeper has stopped three on-target shots for a .500 goals-allowed average. The one goal he did allow, against the Houston Dutch Lions on May 17, was inches inside the post after he nearly saved it from point-blank range.

“From the first day I arrived in Laredo, the team feels familiar,” Ortega said through a translator. “Everyone has adapted so quickly to being together. I am sure we all miss our individual families, but this team of 20-something players has become a family. We play like we do because of those things.”

Announced on Thursday by the league, two Heat players were honorable mentions for the Team of the Week. Team captain and midfielder Juan de Dios Ibarra joined Bayona as honorees for their performances in the first two PDL matches on Laredo’s slate.

“We know exactly what we want to do when we go onto the pitch,” Bayona said. “It’s clear to all of us: we want to score. That’s what we build toward from our backline, through the midfield and up to our attackers. We take a lot of shots, because we want them all to go in. The more you score, the easier the game becomes for your defense and team as a whole.

“You can’t win if you don’t score, and we want to win.”

The Heat will now travel to Houston for a rematch of May 17’s 1-1 draw against the Dutch Lions. The match will kick off on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Following that match, the Heat will travel to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to take on the Strikers of the North American Soccer League in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Open Cup will be on May 28 with a 6:45 p.m. kick off.

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

The Heat also discovered the time and date of the Open Cup’s fourth round match against Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. The winner of the Heat’s third-round match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers – of the second-division NASL – will travel to Houston on June 11 at 9 p.m. The U.S. Soccer Federation made the announcement Tuesday morning.

Each home game 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.

PDL Team of the Week

Pos

Player

Team

Highlights

GK

Eric Osswald

Cincinnati

Five-save shutout keyed Dutch Lions’ win against Rovers

D

Michael Doods

Puget Sound

Strong defensively, scored goal in 1-1 draw against Portland

D

Sebastian Brems

CFC Azul

Two goals in two games as CFC earned four points on the road

D

Jose Noriega

West Virginia

Had a goal, and put in two strong defensive efforts in two victories

M

Nazim Belguendouz

Montreal

Scored twice as Impact U23 took victory in inaugural PDL contest

M

Gideon Asante

SW Virginia

Commanded the midfield, and scored, in win against SC United

M

Ricardo Velazco

Tucson

Had a hat trick to lead side past OC Pateadores

M

Geoff Bowman

So. California

Scored twice to earn Seahorses point against Las Vegas

F

Stephen Roberson

Mississippi

Late game-winning goal lifted Brilla past Panama City Beach

F

Connor Bevans

Lane United

Only goal as United defeated Sounders FC U23 in inaugural game

F

Darius Madison

Reading

Pair of goals rallied United past NJ LUSO for first win of season

Honorable Mention – Austin: Jesus Cortes, Walker Hume; Baltimore: Brandon Allen, Philip Greatwich; Chi. Fire: James Murphy; Chi. Inferno: Bret Petricek, Mario Alvarez; CFC Azul: Eric Venezia; Cincinnati: Chris Harmon, Jake Stovall; Des Moines: Nico Wright, Sam Fitzgerald; Houston: Emmanuel Frias, Lukas Simon; K-W United: Jay Chapman, Nathan Ingram; Kitsap: Cory Keitz, Tommy Catalano; Lane United: Khiry Shelton; Laredo: Juan de Dios Ibarra, Esteban BayonaLas Vegas: Jose Guerrero Ibarra, Ricky Abrego; Long Island: Glen Reid, Jack McVey; Los Angeles: Javier Castro, Bryan De La Fuente; Michigan: Brad Ruhaak, James Murphy; Midland/Odessa: Jordan Slack, Isaac Sanchez; Mississippi: Andrew Power, Chandler Gagnon; Ocala: Alex Clay, Paco Craig; Ocean City: Ben Maurey, Shawn McLaws; Panama City Beach: Erik Pajunk; Portland: Fatai Alashe, Kharlton Belmar; Puget Sound: Zach Hammond, Josh Heard; Reading: Bola Akinyoda; San Jose: Ramon Martin del Campo; Seacoast: Abel Perez; Southern California: Jared Odenbeck; Toronto: Leigh Veidman, Triston Henry; Tucson: Connor Brandt, Odaine Sinclair; Ventura County: Trey Mitchell, Paul Oliver; Victoria: Blair Sturrock, Andrew Ravenhill; Washington: Matthew Poplawski, Christian Roldan; Westchester: Rilwan Salawu, Abraham Baartoa; West Virginia: Tyler Fabien, Dion Peters.

Mid South Division

Pts

GP

W

L

T

GF

GA

Austin Aztex  

6

2

2

0

0

7

1

Laredo Heat  

4

2

1

0

1

3

1

Mississippi Brilla  

3

1

1

0

0

2

1

Houston Dutch Lions  

1

2

0

1

1

1

6

Midland/Odessa Sockers FC  

0

2

0

2

0

1

4

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.