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PREVIEW: Heat Face Must-Win Final Stretch

Laredo eyes 10th straight postseason qualification with 3 matches left

LAREDO, Texas – The Laredo Heat must produce perfection, beginning with Thursday’s Mid-South Division match against the Mississippi Brilla, if they are to continue their decade-long run of postseason qualifications. With three matches left, the Heat sit five points outside the division’s final playoff berth – held by the Midland-Odessa Sockers (6-4-2, 20 points). Essentially, for Laredo, the playoffs start now.

After a heart-breaking loss to the Brilla (3-5-3, 12 points) on July 5 in Clinton, Miss., the Heat have their backs against the wall. The Brilla stole the match at the death, winning a penalty kick in the 88th minute. The conversion cemented the 2-1 victory for Mississippi and served as the prologue to this weekend’s two-match series at the Texas A&M International University Soccer Complex. The Heat host the Brilla on Thursday and Saturday with both matches kicking off at 8 p.m.

Laredo, the only Mid-South team to play on natural grass in a soccer-specific venue, stand 2-1-2 at home with a plus-5 goal differential, while Mississippi is 1-3-0 with a minus-3 differential on the road.

For Laredo, postseason qualification hinges on every tackle, every shot and every match. The Heat (4-4-3, 15 points), if they win the season out, would finish with 24 points. The Sockers face just two remaining games, with the opportunity for a maximum of 26 points, but their schedule holds more treacherous challenges on paper.

Midland-Odessa faces the defending Premier Development League champion Austin Aztex (10-1-1, 31 points) on Friday. Austin has only suffered two losses in the last two years – both via the Heat – but it may field a reduced team as it has already clinched the Mid-South title and qualification in the Southern Conference finals.

For the Heat to have a chance to qualify for the postseason, the Sockers would have to drop points – by losing or drawing – one of their final matches against Austin or the Houston Dutch Lions.

There are several potential scenarios that could see the Heat qualify, with some help.

Assuming the Heat claim maximum points and the Sockers finish with a draw and a win, the postseason qualification process would go to goal differential. As goals stand right now, the Heat have forced 15 and allowed 13, resulting in a plus-2 differential. The Sockers have forced 21 and allowed 16, holding the advantage over Laredo with a plus-5 differential. As it stands now, if Laredo and Midland-Odessa tie on points and went to goal differential, Midland-Odessa would advance.

Plainly put, the Heat need to win and need the Sockers to lose at least once.

All the action can be watched for free online at www.YouTube.com/LaredoHeatSC.

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.

Thursday’s match will be Laredo Community College Night, with LCC Community Outreach staff on hand to assist prospective students and offer college information and exciting giveaways. Registration for Summer Session 2 and the Fall 2014 Semester is under way at LCC. The LCC Palominos Pride Team will offer a special half-time cheer and dance performance.

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