PDL’s Laredo Heat SC selects Top 10 moments from 2012
As the Laredo Heat Soccer Club prepares to enter its 10th Season in the United Soccer Leagues (USL), the Club took time to look back at their 2012 Premier Development League (PDL) season and unveiled their Top 10 moments of the year.
# 10: Taking on the Top League
Even though it was just a pre-season game in early April, for the boys from Laredo, the opportunity to play versus the two time Major League Soccer (MLS) Champion Houston Dynamo was a chance of a lifetime. The Heat traveled to the Bayou City for an early 10:00 AM kick-off versus the eventual MLS Cup Runner-Up at their beautiful training facility just south of downtown Houston. The result, as expected for team with only two weeks of pre-season training under their belt, was not a very a good one; however, playing against some of the MLS’ best was something that will not be forgotten by those who participated.
# 9: Home Grown Players
2012 was an exciting year for several players on the Heat master roster because a total of six of them were born and raised in Laredo and over the past several years, they had played their way on to the PDL team via the Laredo Heat Youth Soccer Club and Academy. These players were not only on the roster but all of them played a role in the success of the team by playing significant minutes on the pitch. The players were Daniel Garza (United High School), Eduardo Gonzalez (Alexander High School), Cesar Guerrero (United High School), Omar Lopez (LBJ High School), Ricardo Mejia (Cigarroa High School) and Gabriel Muñiz (LBJ High School).
# 8: Free for All
On the 4th of July, the Laredo Heat Fans turned out in droves as the home team provided free general admission, free hot dogs and free ice cream to everyone in attendance. The FREEdom Celebration as the match was referred to was a success as everyone had a great time in the stands; however, on the pitch, the Heat could only muster a draw against the visiting New Orleans Jesters.
# 7: Youth National Finals
It is often said that experience is the mother of future success and if that is the case, the future for the Laredo Heat should be bright. The Laredo Heat Super 20 team had a successful regular season; however, the highlight for the team was a trip to the Super 20 Finals in Bradenton, Florida in July. Even though the youngsters did not win a match at the beautiful IMG Academy fields, they returned to Laredo with a desire to get better and return next season to maybe win a few games. Even though the team played in the Under 20 category, the majority of the players were much younger and one of them was even 15 years old.
# 6: Making a Dream Come True
Every season, the Laredo Heat Franchise takes the time to facilitate a dream for a local Make-A-Wish “Wish Child” and this season was no exception. Lesley Almazan, a very strong 12 year old young lady was granted her “wish” of a shopping spree during half-time of the Laredo Heat and New Orleans Jesters July 6th game. After only having managed two draws versus the Jesters in their previous two games, the Heat were finally able to beat the New Orleans club by a score of 3 – 1 on Lesley’s big night.
# 5: Best of the best
Max Gunderson knew he had a very good campaign in 2012, even though his team had fallen short of their goal of making another PDL Championship Game. When individual honors were announced by the league at the end of the season, the Heat defender and former University of the Incarnate Word player was named to the All League Team and that came as no surprise to his teammates and to the Heat administration. Gunderson managed the backline well all year and with his speed and ball control, he was a menace to the entire Mid-South Division all season long.
# 4: Second Round
The Heat took the short two hour drive up IH-35 to challenge the San Antonio Scorpions in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. This was the first time for Laredo to advance in the national tournament. After a scoreless first half, one that saw the Gateway City team stand tough versus a higher division team, the Heat were eliminated by the Scorpions by a score of 2 – 0. Of note, had the Heat been able to get passed the Scorpions, Laredo would have hosted the MLS’ Houston Dynamo in the third round of the competition.
# 3: Make that Four
It took 15 of the 16 games of the 2012 PDL regular season but the Heat was able to secure the Mid-South Division title for a fourth straight year. It could have easily taken all 16 games to clinch; however, since Laredo was playing their final game in El Paso, the team got word via social media that New Orleans had beaten the Austin Aztex at home just before kick-off. The Heat did defeat El Paso in that final game by a score of 4 – 1 with the majority of their starters coming off the field during the first half in order to rest for the playoffs.
# 2: Making History
In order for Laredo to make it to the second round of the U.S. Open Cup versus the San Antonio Scorpions, they needed to have won their opening round game of the tournament. On May 15th, the Heat did just that by beating the ASC New Stars by a score of 4 -2 at the TAMIU Soccer Complex. The win over the Houston based club was the first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup win in the history of the Heat franchise.
# 1: Big Win
“I’m a little bit surprised to be honest”, said Heat midfielder Luis de la Vega. On April 24th, the Laredo Heat hosted the back-to-back FMF’s (Mexican Federation) Under 20 Champion, the Club America Aguilas, one of the most storied franchises in Mexico. Several of Club America’s players had First Division experience and a few others had represented Mexico at the Under 20 World Cup. The 4 – 1 victory for the PDL side was a fantastic way for the Heat to open up their 2012 season in front of their fans.