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Heat win, add three points

Heat win, add three points

By Zach Smith

Laredo Morning Times


Chuy Cortes and Adam Johns scored first half goals while goalkeeper Jorge Ortega stopped a penalty and rebound late in the second half to help the Heat beat Mississippi 2-1 on Thursday night.

It was Laredo’s first win of the PDL regular season and puts them in sole possession of second place, three points ahead of the Brilla and five points behind league-leader Midland. Since their first full season in 2004, the Heat have never finished out of the top two in the division standings.

Mississippi (2-1-2, 0-1-2 PDL) was on the front foot early on and was helped out by three early fouls on Laredo in the attacking third. They continued to press forward and had their best chance 10 minutes in but sent a shot just wide.

Cortes capitalized on the counter attack and scored his first goal of the season and just the third goal from the run of play for the Heat (2-2-2, 1-1-2).

Mississippi continued to press for the equalizer, butthe Laredo back three of Martin Moreno, Yair Hernandez and Alan Reyna stood fast and didn’t allow a good chance on goal for the rest of the period.

When the two teams met for a pair of games last month, both games were played with a lot of intensity.

The story remained the same this time around. After Johns and a Brilla defender went to ground, there was a brief scuffle between both sides before they were separated by the referee. No cards were issued.

Cortes continued to show his skill as the half went on. After forcing the keeper into a diving save, he found Juan Ibarra in the corner. Ibarra played a ball on the ground to Johns, who was unmarked in front of the net to double the score.

The first time the Heat and Brilla played a full 90 minutes this season on May 25, Mississippi scored two unanswered goals in the second half to steal a point in Laredo. But the Heat came out in the second half and made sure that wouldn’t happen again.

Laredo started sitting back more and bombing the ball forward instead of playing on the ground like they successfully had during the first 45 minutes. Still, when there was an open lane, the Heat weren’t afraid to take it.

Cortes had a free kick from just outside the box deflect off the Mississippi wall and get picked up by the keeper, and Leon Taylor had a shot right in front of the net blocked. The Brilla almost handed the Heat a goal when a defender passed the ball back to the keeper when he wasn’t there but the ball bounced off the post.

Mississippi pulled to a goal back at 2-1 five minutes later when former Chicago Fire homegrown player Kellen Gulley tapped in a rebound.

It looked like a repeat of the last game when Gulley drew a penalty after being brought down in the box by Hernandez four minutes later.

Ortega had another idea.

He dove to his left and stopped the shot, then got up quickly and was there to make the save on the other post. He punched away another cross in stoppage time to clinch three crucial road points.

The teams will meet for the final time this season Saturday at 7 p.m. before Laredo heads to Houston for a two game series with the Houston Dutch Lions

Follow @Zach_Smith_ on Twitter for the latest news on the Heat and other local sports.

Email: ZSmith@LMTOnline.com