|Full name||Laredo Heat Soccer Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Heat, The Red Flames|
|Stadium||Texas A&M International University Soccer Complex
|Head Coach||Fernando Hernandez|
|League||USL Premier Development League|
|2013||2nd, Mid South
Playoffs: Conference Finals
|Website||Club home page|
Laredo Heat is an American soccer team based in Laredo, Texas, United States. Founded in 2004, the team plays in the USL Premier Development League (PDL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, in the Mid South Division of the Southern Conference.
The team plays its home games at the Texas A&M International University Soccer Complex, where they have played since 2008. The team's colors are red, black and white.
Laredo Heat initially joined the USL Premier Development League in 2004 as an expansion franchise, playing a limited 'exploratory' schedule of eight exhibition games against selected opponents, but only managed two wins, both over the Lafayette Swamp Cats, 4-0 and 5-0, the latter of which featured a hat trick from striker Nelson Mata-Meza. Former Tampa Bay Mutiny, DC United and US national team striker Roy Lassiter played for Laredo in their 2-1 loss to DFW Tornados, but did not get on the score sheet.
Laredo's first true competitive season was 2005, and the team proved to be a formidable opponent almost immediately. They won their opening game 3-0 over Austin Lightning, and followed that with three wins in their next four games, before being brought back down to earth with a bump following a 7-0 hammering at the hands of the traditional regional powerhouses, El Paso Patriots. The Heat rallied to register three more wins in June, including two hugely impressive wins on their trip to Tennessee, with a 5-0 thumping of Nashville Metros and a 5-1 drubbing of Memphis Express. Despite losing three of their last four games down the home stretch, including back-to-back losses away at the New Orleans Shell Shockers, Laredo held off Austin Lightning to finish second in the Mid-South Division and claim a playoff spot at their first serious attempt. At the Southern Conference playoff tournament, Laredo dispatched Southeast Division champions Cocoa Expos 2-1 in the semi finals, but lost to El Paso in the final. Dionisio Infante was Laredo's top scorer for the season, with 8 goals, while both Hector Vallejo-Medina and Juan Ibarra contributed 5 assists.
Laredo's emergence as a true PDL powerhouse began in 2006. They began their season with a 9-game winning streak, proving to be a dominant force both at home and on the road: they scored an 88th minute winner to beat Austin Lightning 4-3 on the opening day, enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win over DFW Tornados, came from behind to beat traditional rivals El Paso Patriots 3-2, and beat Austin for a second time, 4-1 on the road in mid-June. Laredo's only losses came at the hands of DFW and El Paso, the latter a comfortable 3-0 win for the Patriots on their home turf in the final game of the season, but by that time Laredo had already wrapped up their first divisional title by 16 points from the Tornados, and were into the playoffs for the second straight year. They won their conference semi final 3-2 over Augusta Fireball with two late goals from substitute Arnoldo Presas-Delgado, and secured their first ever conference championship by beating Bradenton Academics 2-1 with an 89th minute winner from Dionisio Infante. Their first trip to the national stage saw them taking on Eastern Conference champions Westchester Flames; with yet another dogged performance, Laredo came from two goals down to win 3-2 with Dionisio Infante scoring an 89th minute winner for the second game in a row. The Heat hosted the 2006 PDL Championship Game, which was broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel, where they faced Central Conference champions Michigan Bucks. Unfortunately for Laredo, and despite the support of 7,000 home fans, lightning couldn't strike three times, and Michigan held on to win 2-1 and take their first PDL title. Nevertheless, reaching the national final was a monumental feat for a second year franchise, and boded well for the future. Hector Vallejo-Medina was Laredo's top scorer, with 7 goals, and Steve Su contributed 6 assists.
Laredo retained their Mid South Division title in style in 2007, losing just two regular season games all year long. Despite never really overwhelming any of their opponents in games, Laredo were dogged and determined, grinding our comfortable 1-0 and 2-0 wins over their opponents, doing just enough to remain consistent all year. They began the season strongly, with a 3-0 win over Baton Rouge Capitals on the opening day of the season, and despite dropping points to El Paso, New Orleans and Austin, remained at the top end of the divisional standings throughout May. They beat DFW Tornados 4-1 at home on June 1, kick-starting their season into action; they lost just one more game, a tight 1-0 decision on the road against El Paso Patriots, but were dominant elsewhere, closing the season with four straight wins and a bizarre 3-3 tie with Mississippi Brilla, who fought back from being 3-0 down at half time and equalized with an 87th minute penalty kick! They finished the regular season 8 points clear of El Paso at the top of the Mid South Division standings, and hosted the Southern Conference playoffs for a second year. After comfortably dispatching Central Florida Kraze 4-0 on the conference semi final, they then beat Southeast Division champions Carolina Dynamo to retain their Conference championship and book their place in the national Final Four for the second straight year. Their opponents there were Western Conference champs Fresno Fuego, who proved to be dogged competition; Laredo eventually scored an 84th minute winner through teenager Felix Garcia, and held out for a 1-0 win to take their place in the 2007 PDL Championship Game. The game, which Laredo hosted, saw them facing off again against Central Conference champions Michigan Bucks, the first time in PDL history that the same teams had qualified for consecutive championship games. After a tense 0-0 tie through regular time and extra time, Laredo sent their 6,640 home fans crazy by winning the penalty shoot-out 4-3. Felix Garcia struck the winning kick past Bucks keeper Steve Clark. The shootout was notable for the injury to Michigan striker Kenny Uziogwe who, after taking a PK which was saved by Laredo keeper Ryan Cooper, immediately collapsed in agony with cramp; however, when the referee called the penalty back due to Cooper being off his line, Uziogwe was unable to continue, and despite receiving treatment for 10 minutes on the field, had to be substituted during the shoot-out.
As 2-time PDL Championship finalists and reigning national champions, Laredo were expected to be competitive in 2008, and did not disappoint. They started strongly, with two ties and a win in their opening three games, but were unexpectedly beaten 1-0 by expansion team Austin Aztex U23, who proved to be their regular-season nemesis. Laredo stuttered slightly in June, having to come from behind to tie 3-3 with New Orleans Shell Shockers, fighting back strongly to register three consecutive three goal victories, but then losing twice in two days to the El Paso Patriots, ensuring that the fight for the playoff spots would be a close one themselves, El Paso and Austin. Their second loss of the season to the Aztex, a 1-3 decision in which head coach Israel Collazo was sent off after the final whistle, seemed to light a fire under the Heat, who rallied to finish the regular season with three straight wins. They annihilated Houston Leones 7-0, and beat the New Orleans Shell Shockers 4-0 on the final day with a hat trick from Felix Garcia to secure second place in the division by one point from El Paso, squeaking into the playoffs by the narrowest of margins. Laredo traveled to Florida for the Southern conference tournament; they beat Central Florida Kraze 2-1 in the semi final, and exacted sweet revenge over Austin Aztex U23 by beating them 3-1 in the conference championship game, thereby securing their third straight title, and their third consecutive trip to the national final four. Their opponents in the semi final were the surprise Eastern champs, Reading Rage, who they beat 2-0 to advance to their third straight PDL Championship Game, and in doing so became the first team in PDL history to achieve such a feat. In the final they faced Central Conference champions Thunder Bay Chill, and despite taking the lead, and despite Thunder Bay having a man sent off, had to settle for a 1-1 tie after extra time. Laredo were forced to endure a penalty shootout for the second year in a row; however, unfortunately for their 3,451 fans, Thunder Bay triumphed in the shootout to take the title. Young sensation Felix Garcia was Laredo's top scorer, with 11 goals (and was also named PDL U19 Player of the Year), while Juan Ibarra contributed 8 assists.
As at June 9, 2011.
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Notable former players
This list of notable former players comprises players who went on to play professional soccer after playing for the team in the Premier Development League, or those who previously played professionally before joining the team.
|Year||Division||League||Regular Season||Playoffs||Open Cup|
|2004||4||USL PDL||8th, Mid South||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2005||4||USL PDL||2nd, Mid South||Conference Finals||Did not qualify|
|2006||4||USL PDL||1st, Mid South||National Final||1st Round|
|2007||4||USL PDL||1st, Mid South||Champions||Did not qualify|
|2008||4||USL PDL||2nd, Mid South||National Final||Did not qualify|
|2009||4||USL PDL||1st, Mid South||Conference Finals||Did not qualify|
|2010||4||USL PDL||1st, Mid South||Conference Semi-Final||Did not qualify|
|2011||4||USL PDL||1st, Mid South||National Final||Did not qualify|
|2012||4||USL PDL||1st, Mid South||Conference Semi-Final||2nd Round|
|2013||4||USL PDL||2nd, Mid South||Conference Finals||2nd Round|
Events hosted by the Laredo Heat
- Wednesday, May 24, 2006: Laredo Heat vs Chivas
- USL PDL Southern Conference Champions 2011
- USL PDL Mid South Division Champions 2011
- USL PDL Mid South Division Champions 2010
- USL PDL Mid South Division Champions 2009
- USL PDL Southern Conference Champions 2008
- USL PDL Champions 2007
- USL PDL Southern Conference Champions 2007
- USL PDL Mid South Division Champions 2007
- USL PDL Southern Conference Champions 2006
- USL PDL Mid South Division Champions 2006
- Lance Noble (2004)
- Eddie Silva (2004)
- Eleazar Jepson (2005)
- Israel Collazo (2006–2011)
- Fernando Hernandez (2012–present)
- Veterans Field; Laredo, Texas (2004)
- The Student Activity Center; Laredo, Texas (2005–2007)
- Texas A&M International University Soccer Complex; Laredo, Texas (2008–present)
Attendance stats are calculated by averaging each team's self-reported home attendances from the historical match archive at http://www.uslsoccer.com/history/index_E.html.
- 2004: 1,300
- 2005: 542
- 2006: 705 (9th in PDL)
- 2007: 737 (10th in PDL)
- 2008: 974
- 2009: 1,228 (7th in PDL)
- 2010: 989 (10th in PDL)
- United Soccer Leagues (USL)
- United Soccer Leagues (USL)
- Edward Estrada | San Jacinto College (Athletics)
- 404 Error
- Felix Garcia - U.S. Soccer
- 404 Error
- University of the Incarnate Word - Max Gunderson - 2009 Men's Soccer
- Southern Connecticut - Francisco Lara - 2010 Men's Soccer
- University of the Incarnate Word - Jesus Cortez - 2010 Men's Soccer
- 404 Error
- 404 Error