The Laredo Heat entered Friday’s matchup against Dallas City FC looking to get their first win in nearly three weeks. Unfortunately for Laredo, its struggles continued as it lost 1-0 to Dallas City to begin its three-game homestand.
Friday’s loss marks the fourth straight time the Heat were unable to come away with three points as they have gone 0-3-1 in their last four matches. Laredo hasn’t won since it defeated Tyler FC 2-0 nearly three weeks ago on June 2 on the road. The Heat also haven’t won at home since May 18 when they beat Tyler 2-1.
In the National Premier Soccer League, only the top four teams in each division make the postseason. Laredo (3-4-1) entered Friday’s matchup in fourth place in the Lone Star Conference with 10 points while Dallas City (2-4-1) trailed in fifth with four. A win would have given the Heat a much-needed cushion with four games remaining in the regular season. However, Laredo now leads Dallas City 10-7 for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division.
“These last four games are super important,” Heat midfielder Ryan Birchfield said. “We need to take it one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves.”
The game featured a lot of new faces for the Heat as they brought in six new players this week in defenders Andreas Aguirre and Steven Carias, forwards Michael Cole and Rory McCullough and midfielders Edgar Alaniz and Fernando Flores. Aguirre, Carias, Cole and Flores all made their debuts while goalkeeper Carlos Herrera made his return in goal for Laredo a week after he was replaced by Marc-Antoine Huzen.
The first half featured a lot of chippiness and back-and-forth play as both teams were seeking cards in the opening minutes. The Heat finally had an opportunity in the 18th minute, but Ivan Sakou’s shot sailed just high of the goal.
Action started to pick up midway through the first half as Laredo experienced back-to-back scares. Dallas City had a shot in the 29th minute in which Herrera had to punch the ball over the goal to block it. Then a minute later, Herrera had diving save as Dallas City tried to score off a free kick.
Laredo had its best opportunity to strike in the first half as Cole faced Dallas City’s keeper in a one-on-one situation in the 38th minute. However, Dallas City’s goalie stuck his foot out just wide enough to prevent Cole from scoring. After that, neither team had a quality chance to score as they entered the break tied 0-0.
The second half began with a lot of back-and-forth play. But 15 minutes into the half, Dallas City broke the scoreless tie in the 60th minute as Carias was called for a yellow card. The Heat blocked Dallas City’s free kick opportunity, but the visitors buried the ball on the ricochet attempt. Dallas City’s lead almost didn’t last long as Birchfield had an opportunity to tie the game in the 61st minute for Laredo. But Birchfield’s shot bounced straight off the crossbar.
“We are creating a multitude of chances,” Birchfield said. “We probably need to shoot more on the edge. We need to start finding the corners instead of the middle.”
The Heat once again almost knotted the game at one apiece as they crossed the ball into the box in the 68th minute. Unfortunately for Laredo, Sakou’s attempt off the cross went high and right of the goal.
In the 73rd minute, Dallas City looked for a penalty kick opportunity as the Heat were called for a foul on the line of the box. However, the referees gave Dallas City a free kick attempt instead. Herrera dove to block Dallas City’s shot off the free kick to prevent a two-goal hole for Laredo.
The Heat had several opportunities to tie the game up over the last 15 minutes. However, their shots either went wide or over the goal, or Dallas City’s keeper dove to make a save.
“Not finishing our chances costed us,” Birchfield said. “We created a bunch of chances. At the end of the day if the ball doesn’t go into the net you don’t win. So we need to work on our finishing. We need to keep our heads up though because we are playing good soccer. We just need to find the back of the net next time.”
Laredo will continue its homestand at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday when it hosts Katy 1895 FC. The Heat defeated Katy 8-0 earlier this season on the road.