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PREVIEW: Mid-South Powers to Clash in Austin

PREVIEW: Mid-South Powers to Clash in Austin

Playoff positions become primary focus in South Texas showdown

LAREDO, Texas – The second half of the season has begun, and the Laredo Heat find themselves in a promising position – albeit in third place in the Mid-South Division. The Heat will meet the rival Austin Aztex with six points on the line in a span of just four days – in Austin on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex in Laredo on July 1 at 8 p.m.

 

In the simplest terms, the Heat’s season hinges on those collective 180 minutes. The defending national champion Aztex (7-0-1, 22 points) lead the Mid-South, clearing the second place Midland-Odessa Sockers (4-3-2, 14 points) by an intimidating margin. Only the division’s top two finishers qualify for the Southern Conference playoffs, a tournament the Heat have never failed to appear in since 2005. But, entering the pair of matches against Austin, the Heat (3-2-3, 12 points) can overtake second place with positive results and dropped points by the Sockers – who play on Friday and Sunday.

Austin is arguably the fiercest club in the Premier Development League, having not lost a match since July 3, 2013 – when the Laredo Heat cleansheeted them, 1-0, in Laredo. Since Austin joined the league in 2012, the Heat have offered the most challenges, with a 3-0-5 head-to-head record and a minus-4 goal differential – as both teams claimed the division crown since then. With Austin departing in 2015 for the United Soccer League’s Professional Division after this season, both state powers will look for the edge in the rivalry.

The Heat are sure to play with raised stakes as the pursuant against the undoubtedly confident Aztex. Austin, despite sitting comfortably atop the table, hold a plus-17 goal differential this season. Their quick-attack capability will test the Heat’s backline, but is also bound to produce openings for Laredo to control offensively. When the teams met in Austin on June 14, the Heat struck first – off a free-kick set piece – before allowing four unanswered strikes to the home side. At least two of Austin’s goals were products of Laredo mistakes – including a failed backpass to the goalkeeper.

Laredo will bring a pair of PDL Team of the Week Honorable Mentions to Austin. Outside fullback Salvador “Chava” Luna and striker Irving Villanueva now have their sights set on Austin after a successful week on the road claimed four points. The Heat defeated the Albuquerque Sol, 3-2, in a cross-divisional match on June 19 with both honorees netting goals, and then drew, 1-1, with the Sockers on June 21 with Luna striking the only goal.

Laredo remains just two points behind the Sockers – albeit with a game in hand.

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.