After suffering their first loss of the season, the Austin Aztex (7-1-1) now begin a three-game road trip facing the team that defeated them, the Laredo Heat (4-2-3). That loss represented the end of an impressive winning streak at home dating back to June 16, 2012. The Aztex will not take that lightly and will go into the game determined to take away three points from the Heat this Tuesday July 1st at the Texas A&M International Soccer Complex at 8 p.m.
This will be the last game of the series between this two squads that have historically fought though, contested battles on the field. The Aztex won the first game with a 4-1 score coming from behind. The Heat leveled the series with a 1-0 score last Saturday.
With those results, the rivalry received a renewed spark. Both teams have won the division before, but most recently, the Aztex eliminated the Heat in the 2013 Southern Conference Final.
With the last stretch of the 2014 USL PDL season starting, the race for the Mid-South Division crown is getting tighter, and every point disputed is crucial for the team’s aspirations. The Austin Aztex still hold the top spot with 22 points and a five-point lead over the Midland/Odessa Sockers. The Laredo Heat climbed back into the race with 15 points on their record.
A win for the Aztex would mean more breathing room and would again distance themselves from the Sockers, and would also help them get closer to their goal of getting home-field advantage through the Southern Conference Playoffs. A win for the Heat, and the division would become a three-way brawl between these Texas rivals.
During the last game, the Aztex failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities after constantly knocking on the door with the likes of Chuy Cortes piercing the Heat defense through the left side and constantly feeding the ball to Adam Black and Aztex forward Bubacarr Jobe, who registered his second straight start of the season. In the second half, Aztex Head Coach Manuel Buentello gave the opportunity to Eddie Campbell to help the attack, but after trying from all fronts, the equalizer never came.
The Aztex will try to decipher Laredo’s defense with a variety of attacking combinations. They have proven week in and week out that the can score from different fronts, and different players can contribute to Austin’s offensive efforts.
The Heat will get back an important piece of their defensive front in Sebastian Ramirez, as he returns from a red card suspension. This will help Laredo in their attempt to shut down the Aztex for a second time, as Austin’s squad will surely try to use all the attacking arsenal at their disposal to break Laredo’s defense and steal the series away.
On the goalkeeping front, despite allowing one goal, Aztex keeper Devin Perales had a strong performance last Saturday, especially on the second half when he came out on top after a couple of one on one’s with a Laredo attacker. He will look to put on a strong performance to help the Aztex bounce back to form. Heat keeper Jorge Ortega will focus on denying any goal opportunity to the Aztex for the second time in a row.
The Aztex return to House Park on July 11 to host the second place Midland/Odessa Sockers on a crucial match for division supremacy.