The Austin Aztex (6-4-2) regained first place with the team’s second consecutive victory over the reigning Mid South Division champions Laredo Heat (6-3-2) coming from behind to win 2-1. The Aztex victory marked the first home loss for Laredo this season, and it was the first comeback win since the rebirth of the Aztex. Horacio Leal gave Laredo the lead in the first half, but second half efforts from Kekuta Manneh and Kristopher Tyrpak provided Austin the lead and the win.
The Aztex fell behind early in Laredo after a long ball from Juan de Dios Ibarra split the Austin defense and found Leal, who gathered the ball and chipped it over keeper Aztex goalkeeper Devin Cook, to open the scoring in the 10th minute. Laredo had two more chances to double its lead in the first 15 minutes. Leal shot the ball over the net in the 12th minute from outside the box, and Cook saved Daniel Garza’s effort two minutes later.
After the early Laredo goal and scoring opportunities, the Aztex possessed the ball well searching for an equalizing goal. William Morse moved to a target striker position, and Pedro Pereira played behind the forwards. In the 16th minute, Ross Kelly shot wide after receiving a corner from Pereira. Manneh worked a one-two with Matt Boullt a minute before the end of the first half, but Heat goalkeeper Emmanuel Frias saved Manneh’s shot.
The half ended with Laredo up 1-0.
The Aztex searched for an early second half goal to tie the game, and Morse almost provided the tying effort after fought off two defenders in the 47th minute to get a shot on goal. Four minutes later, Austin became only the second team to score in Laredo this season. The goal came when halftime substitute Khiry Shelton crossed the ball to Tyrpak for an easy tap in. Austin nearly took the lead off an excellent individual effort from Tyrpak in the 62nd minute. The wide player stole the ball in the midfield and dribbled 20 yards before passing to Manneh, whose shot went over the net.
Despite the miss, Manneh capitalized in the 74th minute to give the Aztex a 2-1 lead. Chuy Sanchez, another substitute Dalglish made in the second half, passed the ball to Manneh, whose shot beat Frias to his near post from 10 yards out. In the 80th minute, Dalglish moved to a five-man backline substituting Tyrpak and placing Scott Luedtke into a defensive role. The decision stifled the Heat, and the Aztex worked long balls toward Shelton to melt down the clock.
Laredo had one final chance to score, when the Heat won a free kick 19 yards from Austin’s goal in second-half extra time. Cook’s diving save to the upper corner rejected de Dios Ibarra’s free kick that could have tied the game.
The Aztex travel to New Orleans next, to play the Jesters on Saturday night. They return to Austin for their last regular season home game on Friday, July 6, at House Park at 7:30pm.