A familiar face dropped by the fields behind Central this week: last year's Parra Car Care Character Award winner. The former Atlético Central captain was on hand to cheer for his classmates from the sideline in a hard-fought loss to Bedford United.
The Broncos picked up their first ever ‘W' in Liga HEB, edging out a Spartans side that just couldn't find the back of the net. Nothing seemed to go right for Central in Week 2, with Alético dropping points in their own stadium as Real Euless continued to impress. Mark your calendars for the showdown between Euless and Hurst City on March 7. It will likely decide which of the two teams takes home Top of the Table honors in 2018.
But that's Week 6. Here's the story on Week 2:
Bedford United Steals Historic Win
It wasn't pretty, but it was sorely needed. After taking a beating in Week 1, the Broncos found their footing and grabbed three points against a persistent, if unlucky, Spartans FC. The Navy and Grey were the aggressors from the opening whistle but saw their shots pushed over the crossbar by wind time and again in the first half.
To their credit, Bedford United adopted a much more defensive outlook for the match; dropping a center back deep, increasing their urgency on loose balls, and sending more of their talent to reinforce the back line. The strategy taxed their midfield, leaving them trapped in their own third for most of the game, but ultimately provided just enough resistance to see them through. Their only goal came early in the match on a mishandled cross and lasted them to the end.
With their opponents firmly bunkered in, Spartans pushed for an equalizer all night. They very nearly converted late in the second half, after a long ball sprung their forward into a one-on-one with Bedford's goalkeeper. Drawn off his line, the keeper managed to force his opponent to the far post, and the shot skidded just shy of the bar. This will be a tough loss for Central, especially rolling into next week's match with undefeated Real Euless.
There's no singular reason this one went so wrong for Stallions, but an aggressive City side did them no favors. The goals came early and often for Hurst, who led 9-nil by the half and never really struggled to put the Horsemen away.
The opening barrage consisted of, in order: a chip pass that left the Stallions defense with hands on hips, a magnificent deke followed up with a centering assist, and a stellar solo run from their right wing. The only constant for Euless was impatience from a young backline. Too many of their fullbacks took too many wasted swings at the ball. The skillful and speedy Hurst City attack tore them apart.
To their credit, though, Stallions remained impervious to the scoreline throughout the match. They struggled on the field, but set the bar high for sportsmanship, even calling their own fouls if the referee missed something. It's going to be a tough season for the boys in black, but they might prove to be the best men on the field, regardless.
Exceptional Goalkeeping Not Enough for Atlético Central
If soccer was won with saves, Atlético Central would be in great shape this year. Their netminder stood on his head a few times this week, but couldn't keep Real Euless at bay forever. A blocked PK and a soaring punch-save in the waning moments of the match ought to earn him plenty of All-Star buzz, though.
Despite their keeper's heroics, Atlético struggled to contain a Euless team that boasts the league's most prolific attack. The Blues played well in the center of the field but seemed outmatched if and when Real got a ball through to their strikers, who ratcheted up more than a few lasers that turned a close game into a blowout.
For Central, the key to saving the season will be cleaning up a back line who held their own against pressure but seemed lost when Real played the ball back to get a better angle on the net. We still haven't seen Euless face a true test — and won't until their two-step with Hurst at season's end — but they're starting to look like the real deal.