It was a lopsided week in Liga HEB. It's a rare occurrence, but every now and then all three fixtures pit a powerhouse against a club in rebuilding mode. The schedule only heats up from here, though. The league's top teams will clash in Weeks 5-7, with a brief pause for the All-Star match on February 28.
But before we get there, we've got a week of blowouts to recap and a Valentine's Derby Day to prepare for. Strap in, because Week 3 was just a preamble. Next week is Rivalry Week.
Raiders United Trample Disjointed Stallions
Another week, another slow start that doomed Stallions FC. Momentum seems to elude the Horsemen, who are still winless in 2018. Their schedule should ease up in the coming weeks — the Rodeo Derby notwithstanding — but lesser opponents won't help if Stallions can't find some discipline in their defensive third. The boys in black struggled to contain a potent Raiders attack, diving in and giving Hurst more than ample opportunity to pull ahead.
The Reds jumped on several early chances, sneaking the ball past a tentative Euless keeper within moments of the opening kick. They led by four at the break and hardly slowed down from there, scoring twice more in the final thirty minutes. The race for the Champions Cup could quite possibly become a Hurst Junior High showdown as the season goes on. It'll be interesting to see what shakes out in the Raider Rumble next week.
Rivalry Week looks less exciting for Stallions, who are still mastering the basics of the game. Coaches Hart and Davilla are sure to be working to build patience in their eager young squad next week, both to boost defensive prowess and to contain an offense that spends most of its time offside. It should be noted, though, that they notched a sweet goal that beat a diving Raiders keeper at the far post to end the game. Small steps lead to big strides when developing a young squad.
Atlético Central Bags Three Points as Bedford Falters
They might be slow starters, but Atlético Central still have a decent path to the Champions Cup before them. For now, they trail Hurst City and Real Euless after dropping fixtures against each to start the year. After those tough matchups, though, they've got a string of winnable games that begins with the Agoge next week.
For Bedford, the road is more difficult. They stole three points last week and find themselves in the hunt, and they'll get a much-needed break next week. A back-to-back with Hurst lurks on the horizon, and their match against Central revealed a lot about this club. The Broncos have a tenacious back line but often find themselves wilting under pressure. More and more players drift anxiously out of position as each match goes on.
To their credit, Alético played a high press to take advantage of Bedford's weak midfield presence. They jumped ahead when a long throw-in cleared an over-committed defense and found a blue-clad striker alone near the top of the box, then tallied again minutes later on an impossible shot that crossed from the near post to the far one. Growing pains are to be expected in this first season, though, and Coach Sebastian is laying the relational groundwork for a top team in years to come.
Spartans Stumble, Real Euless Locks Down First Place
While Hurst City took their week off, Real Euless leaped at the chance to cement the top seed. It's looking like only a Week 6 loss to City will keep Real from stealing the Top-of-Table award this season. Spartans, on the other hand, look like a team with plenty of spirit but no direction.
Over-eager defenses abound in Liga HEB, but Central leads the league in balls booted on the first touch. The scoreline says blowout even though teams split possession fairly evenly, mostly because of Spartans' penchant for stepping into plays and sending the ball as far as possible. They lack the lethal finishing talent they need to run a true counter-attacking game and end up chasing the ball without a chance to actually control it.
Euless seems to suffer from the same lack of poise, forcing the ball up the middle and eventually finding their attack squandered after starting the game with a barrage of goals that had them up by five in the first frame. They showed more poise and patience in building possession, however, and took the game easily even after sending a few key chances harmlessly into the sky above the net. Not a bad result for a club that used most of the match to develop its younger players and rest its veterans.