For the second Wednesday in a row, the group of amateur and former professional players that make up Red Force FC packed their bags and flew across the country, this time to Laredo, Texas, where, unfortunately for the Miami-based team, their US Open Cup dream ended in a wild 2-1 defeat to the Laredo Heat.
Heat defender Danny Garza rescued the home team by scoring in the final minutes. The victory puts the Laredo Heat into the third round with a matchup against NASL side Fort Lauderdale Strikers, another South Florida team and a rematch from last year’s third round.
Laredo was quick to attack and started the game with much of the possession. After consistent waves of attacks led by midfielder Greg Mulamba wingback Salvador Luna drew a penalty kick on an overlapping attack in the box. The penalty was converted by Miguel Fernandez giving Laredo the early lead 1-0.
Madness broke out in the 39th minute when Red Force’s Kevin Nylen and Miguel Fernandez collided in air and fell to the ground. Players from both teams jumped to defend their fallen teammates. The heated scrum took a couple minutes to resolve and ended with four red cards and one yellow card issued. Kevin Nylen and Heber Hernandez from Red Force FC as well as Laredo Heat’s Joao Monteiro and Yair Hernandez were all ejected while Salvador Luna was issued the yellow card leaving the two sides with nine players each.
Shortly after half, the resilient Red Force tied the game. With plenty of field to work with Red Force’s Alejandro Hernandez found Stiven Salinas for the goal. Unlike their previous round in Colorado where Red Force dealt heartbreak it was two Laredo second half substitutes Danny Garza and Felix Garcia that ended the game with a timely goal. Former US youth international Felix Garcia sent a long pass from center midfield into the box where Garza dodged two Red Force defenders and fired the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.
For the Red Force the US Open Cup was a memorable two games run across two states in a week’s time. One exciting come from behind victory in Colorado and one crushing last-minute drama packed defeat in south Texas. The team was clearly disappointed as after a week of lengthy travel if the Red Force had pulled off the upset they would have been able to play their next game in nearby Fort Lauderdale against a team that multiple team members have a history playing for and against.
Laredo Heat on the other hand is riding good form and the momentum provided by the last minute victory into the beginning of their PDL season and the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.
Goal scorer Danny Garza was quoted after the game saying “The team feels very confident … We are very organized. We’ve been training hard since the first day, and hopefully we win the next game.” That next game is the Third Round of the US Open Cup at Fort Lauderdale Strikers’ Lockhart Stadium on May 28.
FULL MATCH REPLAY