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Heat Punch Above Weight vs. Dynamo

Heat Punch Above Weight vs. Dynamo

Historic Open Cup run comes crashing in 4th round

HOUSTON, Texas – Two matches into the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Laredo Heat have twice escaped extra time – and potential elimination – with last minute magic. They’ve done so against both lower and higher division competition, dispatching Red Force FC with a 90th minute breakaway in the second round and then shocking the Fort Lauderdale Strikers with a last-touch penalty-kick conversion.

The pair of last-second survivals swelled to the climactic fourth round meeting with Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on Wednesday. In the end, the Premier Development League – the fourth tier of U.S. Soccer – side saw its cresting domestic cup campaign crash in a 1-0 defeat, despite triggering 12 shots – five on goal.

With the defeat, the Heat fall short of becoming the first PDL side to advance beyond the fourth round after becoming just the 11th to ever taste a match in that round. The Heat held strong, often bending under the Dynamo’s aggressive 19-shot attack, and breaking just once – in the 37th minute when Alexander Lopez was assisted by Omar Cummings for the game’s difference.

The Heat’s Open Cup campaign has seen no shortage of red cards, and the fourth round was no different. Laredo center back Matthieu Braem registered two yellow cards in a nine-minute span (31st, 40th) to reduce the Heat to 10 men with 50 minutes to play. The sides were leveled in the 52nd minute with the ejection of Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric for handling a save about two yards outside his 18-yard box.

Through just three matches for Laredo, a combined eight players have flashed red – half of the bookings going against Laredo.

With the sides even, Laredo pressed forward – never looking like the severe underdog it was. Forward Felix Garcia, a 2008 allocation pick and Generation Adidas player for the Dynamo that never panned out, rocketed a game-high five shots – three on goal. His arsenal attacked from all angles, but none bulged the net. His most influential was the ball that forced Deric’s team-reducing mistake.

With their backs against the wall and the pressure pounding, Laredo shined brightest. Of its 12 total shots, five came in either the last 10 minutes of regulation or stoppage time.

Laredo keeper Jorge Ortega – a 20-year-old Monterrey, Mexico, native – blossomed in net, especially against the nation’s highest level of opposition. He gloved four saves against the seven shots he faced. Equally impressive, Deric was forced into one more save than Ortega.

The Heat will now shift their focus entirely to the Mid-South Division, in which they sit in second place with a 2-1-2 (8 points) record. They lead the Mississippi Brilla on goal differential and trail the PDL defending champion Austin Aztex (5-0-1, 16 points). The Heat and Aztex will face off for the first time this season, in Austin, on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

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.

NOTES: Laredo midfielder Greg Mulamba (ankle) was a late scratch from the lineup after initially being tabbed as a starter.

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.


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