The results are in. The teams are set. The outcome: inevitable.
Laredo Heat (USL PDL member) was able to overcome a last-minute equalizer by ASC New Stars (based in Houston; member of USASA) to win 4-2 in overtime in a First Round Lamar Hunt US Open Cup game played at Texas A&M International University this past Tuesday.
That victory puts Laredo back in San Antonio for their second round matchup versus the Scorpions May 22nd. This will be the third time these two teams have faced off in the past two months as the Scorpions were able to win 3-0 and 3-1 in two March preseason games.
Since then, both teams have started their regular season schedules. Laredo Heat has 3 points in two matches played after they were able to hold on against El Paso Patriots Friday night. San Antonio Scorpions, on the other hand, are third in their league with 11 points and are on a three game win-streak after Pablo Campos’ stoppage time goal last weekend.
This third meeting is by far the most important as the winner will move on to the third round of the tournament and face a Houston Dynamo team currently sitting in the middle of the MLS Eastern Conference. The Dynamo have been inconsistent in their start to the season, splitting evenly their first nine games of the season with three wins, draws, and three losses each.
The third round matchups have MLS teams joining the tournament for the first time. According to the Inferno members (Independent Supports Group of FC Dallas), past experience will be a limited benefit, “but in the end, it’s going to come down to what kind of depth the team has on the bench.” With FC Dallas set to play either the Division 3 USL Pro Charlotte Eagles or Division 4 USL PDL El Paso Patriots, Inferno is hoping to have a lot to cheer for.
Looking at other NASL teams gearing up for their opening US Open Cup match brings us to the Minnesota Stars FC (formerly the Minnesota Thunder). The Dark Clouds – supporters of pro soccer in Minnesota – will be looking forward to “getting one back” from Des Moines Menace (USL PDL) who had knocked the Thunder out of this same tournament several years back. Minnesota could renew an old rivalry against MLS Real Salt Lake with a potential meeting looming in the third round. Minnesota Stars FC is currently second in the NASL while Real Salt Lake leads the MLS Western Conference table.
The Crocketteers and Scorpions have both been striving to bring Major League Soccer to San Antonio and this is a great opportunity for the team and the city. It is also an opportunity to start a rivalry with an MLS team that is less than three hours away and a very feasible day trip for fans of both teams. First, our main focus must be on winning Tuesday versus Laredo Heat. They know what we are capable of and will be using their preseason losses as motivation.
Whatever the matchups end up being, each and every supporters group will be out cheering their team. Our passion helps fuel the energy for our players on the field. Just like the Inferno and Dark Clouds, the Crocketteers will be, “doing whatever we can to back the team.”
Don’t forget this match versus Laredo Heat is Tuesday, May 22 @ 7:30pm. It will be held at a different venue-Blossom Athletic Center near Jones Maltsberger and Bitters intersection (just north of the airport).
A special thanks to Dark Clouds and Inferno supporters group for their help while researching information for this article.