We knew early on that Raiders United were going to have a special season. Hurst has been a powerhouse in Liga HEB for years, and RUFC started their campaign with a blazing run of wins. They lost some momentum in the final weeks, partially because of to a resurgence at Central, but neither of the traditional soccer powers is the big story as the 2017 season comes to a close. That honor belongs to Stallions FC.
The Horsemen finished at the bottom of the table last year, without a point and with an abysmal goal differential. Coach Gary Dobbs struggled to get anything out of his squad in their first season together. But one year and some chemistry later, Stallions find themselves emerging from the cellar and stepping into the Ideal Impact Champions Cup Match. Their dominant performance over rival Hurst City cemented the best season in recent memory for Euless. And it came with a bonus.
Real Euless picked up their first points of the season Wednesday, giving them some momentum as the offseason arrives. Unfortunately, they split their series with Spartans FC and surrendered buckets more goals over the length of the campaign. They finish in 6th place, but they walk away with heads held high. And they aren't the only ones.
Stallions FC Run Away from Hurst City
Stallions and Hurst City played an absolute classic back on March 8, with the Horsemen pulling out a win on a late rocket. Spring Break didn't do City any favors, however, and the rematch was less tense. Euless jumped out to an early lead, throttling up the pressure and outdueling their smaller opponents, who seemed to be knocking off the rust after their week off. The boys in black led 2-nil at the half, and Hurst looked broken.
City did manage to net a goal in the second half, breathing some life into the game for a few minutes before Stallions battled back. The final ten minutes of the game saw a flurry of offense from the Horsemen, and 3-1 became 4-1 became 5-1 in the blink of an eye. Hurst entered the match knowing that they'd need to win by two or more to qualify for the Champions Cup, and the early deficit proved debilitating for one of the league's youngest clubs.
All told, this is a good result for Stallions. They needed a reason to believe that they could lift the cup come April 5. In their two matches against the other team from Hurst, they've hung tight early and fallen apart late. An infusion of offense and some fresh confidence could just be the remedy to their matchup woes against Raiders United.
Real Euless Secure First Points Against Spartans FC
It's been a trying year for Real Euless. They entered Wednesday's action with an average margin of defeat around six and no points on the season. Even their fixture against fellow stragglers Spartans FC went awry earlier this month. Real struggled to get much done in Week 8 because of a nasty bug that swept through the locker room and cut the roster to just eleven men. But with the flu vanquished, they were able to field a team hat caught Central off guard.
Real scored first in both the first matchup and the redux, but this time had the fresh legs to back it up. Their 2-0 advantage at the break was the difference, with Spartans finding the resolve to tie the second half at one apiece. This was the matchup we expected weeks ago, and it will be interesting to see where both clubs end up in 2018.
Neither Spartans nor Real will look back to this year fondly. Still, they've given themselves room to breathe and celebrate as the summer draws near by splitting their last two fixtures. After a tough year together and a long offseason to grow, both clubs could be in a position to surprise a few teams next year.
Upset Bid Falls Short as Raiders Hold Off Atlético
Barring a truly miraculous series of events, Atlético expected that this match would be their last. Rather than losing composure in a desperate attempt to hang a handful of goals on the league leaders, ACFC hit the pitch with one goal: ruin an otherwise perfect campaign for Raiders United. And for about 40 minutes, it looked like they would.
Central made some much-needed adjustments to their defensive strategy and, in so doing, might have found the secret to stopping RUFC. The Blues' backline worked the offsides trap to perfection for most of the first half. Frustrated by their inability to move the ball at-will, Raiders backed away from their signature high press and quick combination passing in favor of a long-range counterattack. Deep balls over the top proved ineffective, however, as the disciplined push of Central's fullbacks caught the Reds offside time and again.
Hurst just about knocked the goal frame down with efforts that clanged off the posts and crossbar throughout the first thirty minutes, and Central snuck in a goal when their striker snuck away from his man and connected with a pass that looked like it might have been accidentally redirected. But their lead wouldn't hold, as Raiders shifted to a more aggressive attack that wore down the Alético defense and eventually found both the equalizer and the go-ahead goal. Now there's only one thing left to do: bring the cup back home.