When the skies are clear and the wind is gentle, it's going to be a good soccer week. Since play started in January, a normally unforgiving Texas climate has taken good care of Liga HEB. With the exception of two rainouts to be made up in the coming month, every week has been a few degrees shy of Perfect Soccer Weather. But blue skies and green grass weren't the highlights this week. That honor goes to Zeb's Foundation.
All this week, representatives from the North Texas nonprofit have been dropping in on teams at practice to deliver new equipment that our students desperately need. Clubs that run practice with their own personal supplies suddenly have twenty match-qualities balls at their disposal. Players who were swapping shinguards on the sidelines can now play in their own. And they have another teenager to thank.
Zeb's Foundation is a family affair, run by a team of fathers and sons motivated by a child's dream. The Foundation's namesake, Zeb Montgomery, was a passionate artist and soccer player who went home to the Lord in 2015. He left behind a simple mission for his family: help other kids play the Beautiful Game.
We're proud to say that, thanks to Zeb, more than 130 local students can. Now, they know his story. They know his vision. And if their smiles and laughter are any indication, they're glad to help move it forward.
Dominant Midfield Puts Raiders United Past Atlético Central
Early on, it looked as though Central had found their legendary late-season form. Atleético came out strong, pinning Raiders into the final third of the field and peppering the goal with quality chances. They seemed to have finally bought into a pass-first, high-pressure attack that allowed them to dictate the flow of the game. But as time passed, Raiders United settled into their game: short, quick passes designed to exploit an open midfield left by an aggressive Blue attack and an undisciplined back line.
From the tenth minute on, play shifted to the front of Central's goal. Raiders wingers found the space to send crosses into the box, and the club's striker started a barrage of his own. After missing on a half-bike and almost connecting on a volley, then a header at the back door, the Raider attack found its rhythm. Their first finish — a clever finished at the near post on the right side — settled the game; the next two were just for show.
It's been a tough year for Atlético; pre-season contenders for the Champions Cup who now trail their in-house rivals by a point. Years from now, this may be the squad coaches point to when they want to remind players that individual talent often falters against organized, team-oriented opponents.
Stallions FC and Bedford United Split Points on Set Pieces
The inaugural season may have been a tough one for Bedford United, but Stallions FC have borne the mantle of Perpetual Underdog since opening night. The Horsemen were more than happy to split points on Wednesday, picking up their first of the year. The Broncos, however, are likely to see this match as one that got away.
Bedford took the lead in the opening 15, sneaking through the Stallion defense and slipping a shot underneath the Euless keeper at the near post on the lefthand side. They wasted a penalty a few minutes later, rifling it right into the goalkeeper's chest. But they appeared to have the game in hand from there. This squad is still young and struggling to communicate, but their tactical understanding has improved every week. Stallions, on the other hand, are just trying to find silver linings as the season comes to a close.
They missed their chance to equalize near the end of the first half when Bedford's keeper gobbled up a lazy centering pass that should have found an open man with a clear chance on the goal. The second half went more smoothly, with the boys in black climbing on the scoreboard after winning a set piece of their own. Standing about 25 yards out, a Stallions midfielder struck a brilliant free kick that curled into the far post, freezing almost the entire Bedford team. They had a scary moment on a loose pass that slipped through the keeper's legs moments later, but he scrambled to dive on the ball and stopped it on the line to preserve the tie.
It's hard to believe that Spartans started the year at the bottom of the Power Rankings, given their recent form. The young upstarts have been found points in their last few fixtures and started this week with more composure than they've shown all season. But it's one thing to be growing in discipline, and quite another to have mastered it. Hurst City stands as a shining example of that disparity.
Hurst went ahead 1-0 in the first half, slotting a low shot into the right post. It took almost 40 minutes for Spartans to match that single effort. Gifted a strong run up the right sideline, a Central forward let loose on a rocket to the near post, but couldn't quite find the space to put it past a Hurst City keeper who has surrendered only a handful of goals all year.
City ran away with it after that, netting another goal when a Euless punch-save rebounded to an open man in the center of the box. The Hurst City striker sent a low effort through a defender's legs at the far post. That's when Spartans lost heart, giving up another tally minutes later when City's winger saved a long pass at the touchline and played it back into an unsuspecting defense. Hurst's Striker went almost unchallenged on the ensuing shot, which put a final nail in Central's coffin.