Laredo Heat S.C.
First Game (Second Round):
Laredo Heat enter this game after beating both Red Force F.C. and Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Laredo were favorites to beat Red Force because they’re above them in the U.S. Soccer pyramid.
However, the U.S. Open Cup is known to offer surprises, and even though Laredo Heat took the lead off a Fernandez penalty in the 24th minute. Red Force from Miami decided to make it interesting by scoring in the 66th minute.
It took a late goal in the 90th minute off of an assist by former Houston Dynamo product Felix Garcia, which was scored by Garza, to give Laredo their ticket to the next round. The favorites had passed by something just short of a miracle.
Second Game (Third Round):
If Laredo had trouble with a team that was lower in the totem pole, then logic would dictate they would easily be eliminated by a team that’s only one level below MLS. Logic is a funny thing in the U.S. Open Cup, because it doesn’t exist!
Laredo Heat face the Strikers in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. The Strikers showed why they’re higher in the U.S. Soccer pyramid by taking a 2-0 lead over Laredo within the first 15 minutes. It was almost a certainty that Laredo would lose, how could a team made-up of amateurs beat a team of semi-professional and professional players?
Well, the Strikers decided to almost practically beat themselves when they went down a player in the 20th minute. Just seven minutes after taking a 2 goal lead. Seven minutes later, Laredo closed the gap by scoring a goal.
The game seemed to be Laredo’s to lose now. They now had 60 minutes to tie the game up and possibly take the lead. Yet they decided to also try to be the cause of their own demise, when in the second half after not being able to tie it up, they also had a player ejected. This seemed to be the Strikers saving grace.
Laredo was against the ropes and time was running out. They decided to bring in Orlando Alvarado in the 84th minute to see if he could add a spark to the game. That’s exactly what he did, when just 45 seconds after being subbed in, he scored the tying goal.
5 minutes were now left in regulation, each team had 10 players and were both equal at two goals a piece. The Strikers decided to give one last gift to Laredo by granting them a penalty kick, three minutes into stoppage time. Laredo scored off of it and advanced to face the Houston Dynamo in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup.
Houston has rarely taken the U.S. Open Cup seriously. They’re known as a team to field players that have had little to no playing time. The thing is that they’ve practically used every single member of their squad due to injuries and national team call-ups.
Houston has strung together four losses and they’re through with MLS until the last weekend of June. This is the perfect opportunity to not only build morale by defeating Laredo by multiple goals, but also getting a step closer to adding some silverware to their trophy case.
Houston’s history with the U.S. Open Cup goes like this:
2013: 3-0 eliminated by FC Dallas in the fourth round
2012: 1-0 eliminated by San Antonio Scorpions in the third round
2011: Did not qualify
2010: 3-1 eliminated by Chivas U.S.A. in quarter-finals
2009: 2-1 eliminated by Seattle Sounders during extra time in semi-finals
2008: 1-1 eliminated by Charleston Battery 4-3 in penalties in the third round
2007: 1-0 extra time defeat by Charleston Battery in the third round
2006: 3-1 eliminated by L.A. Galaxy in the semi-finals
As results have shown, Houston has taken this tournament less and less seriously as time has passed. Laredo Heat have the motivation of going all out and defeating a professional team.
However, the Dynamo need this morale booster, and they’re at home and have already secured another home game should they pass to the next round. This means that Houston has nothing to lose by everything to gain by trying to win this game.
It won’t be as easy a game like one would think, but eventually the flood gates will open and Houston should win without sweating too much. Travel and roster depth will play difference and Houston should come out ahead.
Score: 3-0 Houston