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Heat Eye Resurgence On Road Trip

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

Laredo looks to make playoff push with important away stretch

LAREDO, Texas – The Premier Development League’s Mid-South Division is seeing its table separate itself from top to bottom. Postseason qualification is awarded to only the top two teams in the division table, and the Austin Aztex (6-0-1, 19 points) and Midland-Odessa Sockers (4-3-1, 13 points) tightly hold those positions with seven and six games remaining, respectively. For the first time in 10 years, the Laredo Heat will fight their way into the Southern Conference playoffs – a tournament they’ve never failed to qualify for.

Laredo (2-2-2, 8 points) will begin the second half of their season, having already played more matches than both the Mid-South teams ahead of it in the table because of its historic run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Heat became just the 11th PDL team to qualify for the fourth round of the domestic tournament before eventually falling to Major League Soccer’ Houston Dynamo, 1-0, in a match that could have easily seen Laredo win on June 11. The Open Cup tests all levels of the U.S. Soccer Federation pyramid with a gauntlet of games against each other, with the champion earning a berth into the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League, $250,000 in prize money and 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, a fourth division league member –  will earn a $15,000 cash prize.

Despite losing, the Heat are still in contention for the $15,000 reward if no amateur or semi-professional teams advance beyond the fourth round – because of the Heat’s historic 3-2 victory over the North American Soccer League’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers. In the case that the remaining amateur teams don’t advance, Laredo would own the tiebreaker for defeating the highest-level opponent.

But neither the history nor its rewards are what concern the Heat right now, as the team is churning through the turbulent waters of a four-match road run – including three versus Austin and the Sockers. The Heat opened that run with a 4-1 defeat at Austin on June 14, scoring first on the defending PDL champion before its comeback.

Laredo will visit the Mountain Division’s Albuquerque Sol for a cross-divisional competition on June 19 in Albuquerque, N.M., before traveling to Midland and Austin, respectively. The Sol (2-3-5, 11 points) and Heat featured in a scoreless draw on May 31 in Laredo.

With two games this week, including a chance to swipe three points from the Sockers, Laredo may showcase a new-look lineup. Veteran midfielder Greg Mulamba is doubtful for both away matches with a lingering ankle injury, possibly heeding way for Scottish midfielder Marcus Watt’s debut. The Heat’s backline featured a patchwork patrol in Austin on June 14, but the return of wingback Frank Lara and centerbacks Matthieu Braem and Kaique Fernandes. With those three in the backline, Laredo opened the season with four points while scoring three goals and allowing just one. Without them, Laredo has gone 1-2-1 and suffered its worst loss since a 3-1 defeat to the now-defunct Houston Leones on June 12, 2010.

Needing no less than six road points this week before eyeing revenge at the Aztex on June 28, Laredo will surely sling all its chips onto the table before finally returning to the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex on July 1 to host Austin.

Both of this week’s matches will be streamed live on YouTube. The Albuquerque match can be viewed at www.youtube.com/abqsolfc.

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.

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.