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PREVIEW: Heat, Aztex Renew Rivalry in Important Match

PREVIEW: Heat, Aztex Renew Rivalry in Important Match

Regional foes face off in need of maximum points

LAREDO, Texas – The Mid-South Division turned into its final stretch with a trio of Texas clubs racing toward the Southern Conference playoffs. Inevitably, one will be left out with only the top two qualifying for the postseason tournament. The division-leading Austin Aztex (7-1-1, 22 points) visit the third place Laredo Heat (4-2-3, 15 points) on Tuesday at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex at 8 p.m. in what could stand as a deciding factor heading into the final month of the Premier Development League season.

Laredo trails the upstart Midland-Odessa Sockers (6-3-2, 20 points), but hold two games – and thus a maximum of six points – in hand, having played two fewer matches to this point. The Heat have never missed a postseason they’ve been eligible for, while the Sockers have never qualified for a postseason campaign.

The Heat shattered the Aztex’s undefeated season – and dealt them just their second loss in as many seasons – with a 1-0 victory on Saturday in Austin. Since Austin joined the league in 2012, the Aztex and Heat have traded division crowns and second place finishes while Austin eliminated Laredo in last year’s Southern Conference final. A Laredo victory on Tuesday would pull the Heat even in the head-to-head standings, with the matchup currently teetering at a 4-0-5 apex.

The Heat do hold the sharpest of edges at home, a 2-1 advantage, on the soccer-specific natural-grass pitch at TAMIU.

Although the Heat and Aztex met just two days before, the Heat hope to recoup their lineup with the return of center back Sebastian Ramirez from a red card suspension. Team captain Yair Hernandez and youth academy products Jorge Rocha and Omar Lopez were moved into the defensive quartet on Saturday, limiting a limping Aztex lineup in the clean sheet.

Outside fullbacks Frank Lara and Salvador “Chava” Luna were the only natural defensive starters at Austin. Both featured in the Heat’s waves of attack more notably than defensively, with Luna ripping the net with his third goal in as many games. The pair’s speed penetrated Austin from the touchline toward the center of the park, with Luna’s game-winner produced by his breakaway pace and deft angle of attack.

A claiming of at least a point against Austin would push Laredo into an opportunistic position, with the most turbulent portion of their schedule behind them. The Heat close their season with three consecutive matches against the Mississippi Brilla (2-5-2, 8 points) – one away and two at home – and the finale at the Houston Dutch Lions (1-6-2, 5 points). The Sockers close their season against the Aztex – twice – and Houston, while Austin faces the Sockers and Houston twice.

With a maximum of 15 points on the line, Laredo’s push toward the postseason begins Tuesday against the toughest of its remaining opponents.

The match will be live streamed on YouTube, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fTzv-oWIjg.

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.