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Heat eager to bounce back at home

By Jason Mack | Laredo Heat SC, 06/08/22, 1:45PM CDT


The Laredo Heat SC will attempt to bounce back from its only loss as it opens the second half of the season at home Thursday hosting the Lubbock Matadors at 8 p.m. at the TAMIU Soccer Complex.

Kristian Colaci

Laredo hosting Matadors to open second half of season

The longest break between games this season came after the lone loss for the Laredo Heat SC leaving the team eager to return to the field as it hosts the Lubbock Matadors at 8 p.m. Thursday at the TAMIU Soccer Complex.

After playing six games in 20 days to start the season with an average of just 2.8 off days between matches, Laredo (4-1-1, 13 points) has been off for a full week since suffering its first loss falling 3-1 at the Austin United FC on Wednesday, June 1. The Heat scored the equalizer in the 86th minute on the team-leading fifth goal of the season for Kristian Colaci, but they pushed aggressively for the go-ahead goal and Austin capitalized with two goals on the counterattack in added time.

“It wasn’t easy for any of us. I probably didn’t sleep at all that night. But it was a really good wakeup call,” Heat head coach John Powell said. “You can’t take anything away from Austin. They did their job on the day. They played their tactics how they play it, and unfortunately they got the result.”

With a week to reflect on the loss, Laredo has worked on correcting the mistakes while also having time to get healthy and rested. Now the team is eager to prove the defeat was the exception and not the rule for this season.

“Sitting on that and stewing on that loss has made that fire even bigger and stronger,” Powell said. “We are chomping at the bit, and Thursday can’t get here fast enough. We’ve had really good sessions. The intensity level is higher, and the competition within the side has been higher. They are in a really good place for Thursday.”

With the added time to recover, the Heat are optimistic about getting one of their starters back as Sebastian Rivera is expected to return after missing the past two games with a partially torn quadriceps. His brother Jose Rivera is also expected to make a second straight start marking the first time the brothers will take the field together in the NPSL. Playing alongside Aberdeen, Scotland natives Lewis Wilson and Liam Morrison, Laredo’s back line will be composed entirely of current or former St. Mary’s University players.

“Playing at home with my brother would be something really special for me,” Jose Rivera said. “It will be an important moment for me and him, and also our family, playing with my brother on the field. It will be a great experience, but the most important thing will be getting the three points.”

“I’m really excited for Thursday. Playing alongside my brother is a dream,” Sebastian Rivera said. “I can’t wait for Thursday. We are both ready, and we want those three points.”

Last week’s loss dropped the Heat out of first place for the first time since the second game of the season, but they still lead the Lone Star Conference with averages of 2.8 goals scored and 0.8 goals allowed along with a plus-12 goal differential. With a win Thursday, Laredo could overtake the top spot if the Corinthians SC of San Antonio (5-0-2, 17 points) lose or draw Saturday against Austin (1-4-1, 4 points).

“I’m looking forward to getting back on the field and getting three points on Thursday and working back to the top of the league,” Sebastian said. “We’re in a good place, and a win Thursday will put us in great position. If we want to win the league, we just need to keep winning every game.”

Heading into the halfway point of their debut season, the Matadors (2-2-1, 7 points) are coming off their best game winning 5-0 at the Temple Coyotes FC on Thursday, June 2. It surpassed their four goals from the first four games combined as they had a scoreless draw with Irving FC and a 4-0 loss to San Antonio in the previous two games.

“We know Lubbock is going to be a very tough team. They are a really good, dynamic team,” Powell said. “They are good on the defensive side of the ball, they have dynamic players on the attack and they have a very good coach that I know well from the college scene. They are going to come in with a game plan. They will be a tough team to break down as well as a tough team to defend, but I have a lot of faith in the boys. I think we’re in a really good place, and I’m looking forward to Thursday night.”

The Heat have dominated on their home pitch through three matches outscoring opponent 12-1 with the lone goal allowed coming off a penalty kick. Laredo will attempt to record its fourth clean sheet of the season against Lubbock.

“Anytime you get to play at home, you want to take care of business,” Powell said. “The fans are amazing and the pitch is fantastic. We want to make sure we keep our home record going. If you win your games at home, you are in the playoffs. We want to focus on all the details, and we are going after the three points.”

Tickets for Thursday’s match are $5 for general admission and $20 for VIP, and children 12 and under get in free. Visit and follow @laredoheatsc on social media to stay up to date on the latest news. Any youth players interested in joining the academy can visit for more information.

“The second half of the season is going to be interesting. Every game is different, and every game is competitive, but this second part is going to be even harder,” Jose Rivera said. “We’re pushing to clinch that first spot. We’re going to do everything we can to earn first place. Hopefully we can host the playoffs, and from there keep going to the national championship.”

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Sebastian Rivera

Liam Morrison

Lewis Wilson