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Laredo Opens 2024 Conference Playoffs On The Road

By Admin, 07/09/24, 11:15PM CDT


The season starts anew for the Laredo Heat SC on Wednesday as it travels to open the playoffs against West Texas FC, the NPSL’s Lone Star Conference regular-season champion, at 7:30 p.m. at Astound Broadband Stadium in Midland.

“Our first goal this season was to qualify for the playoffs, and our ultimate goal is to win the national championship, so everything remains on the table for us,” Heat head coach John Powell said. “We made things difficult on ourselves having to navigate the conference playoffs away from home, but I’m confident the team can rise to the occasion.”

As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, Laredo is back in the postseason after a rare occurrence of falling short last year when Powell was away from the team. The Heat have qualified in all three seasons under Powell. In the previous two playoff runs, the team advanced to the conference finals in 2021 and the regional semifinals in 2022.

The Heat (5-3-2, 17 points) had a chance to secure a home playoff match with a victory Saturday in the finale, but they fell 3-1 at FC Brownsville (6-1-3, 21 points) to drop to the No. 4 seed. Laredo secured its playoff spot thanks to the Lubbock Matadors (5-2-3, 16 points) losing against West Texas (7-2-1, 22 points).

“You never want to have to rely on outside help, but this conference is the most competitive it has ever been and is arguably the strongest conference in the NPSL,” Powell said. “It doesn’t matter anymore how we got here. The focus shifts to controlling what we can control which is preparing for West Texas.”

Like most teams, Laredo was at its best at home this season. In the inaugural season at PEG Energy Stadium, the Heat finished 3-1-1 with 11 goals for and six against. On the road, they went 2-2-1 with only a plus-1 goal differential at eight goals scored and seven allowed.

Laredo is thankful for the fresh start the playoffs bring as it looks to bounce back from a rough second half of the regular season. The Heat rolled in the first half of the season positioning themselves at the top of the table at an unbeaten 4-0-1 record with 13 goals for and only six goals against. However, the second half featured just a 1-3-1 mark with an even six goals scored and six allowed.

“We are obviously disappointed we didn’t secure enough points to open the playoffs at PEG Energy Stadium,” Powell said. “Our crowd and our atmosphere are the best in the NPSL, and it is definitely a boost playing at home. We made life harder on ourselves having to take care of business on the road, but that’s exactly what we intend to do.”

It could be considered both a plus and a minus for the Heat that they are the last team to take points against West Texas. Laredo won 2-0 at home on June 8 as West Texas fell to 2-2-1 to finish the first half of the regular season. However, since that defeat, West Texas has rounded into form going 5-0-0 in the second half while outscoring opponents 24-6. The team has scored at least four goals in every match since being blanked by the Heat.

“There is no doubt they are a top side that is in top form heading into the postseason,” Powell said. “We had our hands full with them in Laredo, and the challenge will be even greater trying to slow them down on the road, but I have all the faith in the world in our players to step up to the challenge.”

Part of the tale of two halves of the season for West Texas is that it played four road matches in the first half and had four home matches in the second half. The team is unbeaten at home outscoring opponents 23-6, and it is 2-2-1 on the road with an even 10 goals scored and 10 allowed.

When the teams met June 8 in Laredo, the Heat deployed a defense-focused strategy asking the forwards and midfielders to play back more and to be patient with taking chances. West Texas had more possession in the match, but Laredo controlled the scoring chances.

Oscar Govea scored his first goal with the Heat cleaning up a rebound off a shot from Manuel Ponce Casas in the 26th minute. Govea also helped secure an insurance goal in the 61stminute. He dribbled up the right side of the box after a throw in, then he crossed a pass through traffic toward the left post where Jonathan Cardona crashed into the box to redirect the ball in for a 2-0 lead.

Even amid the concentrated defensive effort, West Texas generated a few quality scoring chances. However, Laredo goalkeeper Adrian Gallardo was up to the challenge every time.

As the Heat attempt to replicate that defensive effort and slow down West Texas, they must do so without the services of midfielder Jorge Amaya. He received a red card late in Saturday’s loss for a challenge inside the Brownsville box.

If the Heat win on Wednesday, they will travel on Saturday for the Lone Star Conference Final. The match would be hosted by the winner of the other semifinal between No. 2 Brownsville and the No. 3 Denton Diablos FC (5-3-2, 17 points).

Visit for live streams of the Heat’s matches. For ticket information and to stay up to date on all things Laredo Heat, visit, follow @laredoheatsc on all major social media platforms or email