Two years ago, Liga HEB played its first-ever All-Star game; a tightly contested affair that ended in a come-from-behind win for HEB White. Last year, HEB Green leveled the series at one match apiece. For most of the players in this league, though, that record means nothing. For the coaches and administrators, there's something bigger at stake. The point of the All-Star game is to build camaraderie in the league, putting an end to bitter rivalries and bringing kids together through the joy of the Beautiful Game.
Naturally, we needed to set up a system to ensure a mixed roster.
Building the Teams
To ensure a good mix of players from both schools, the coaches draft both All-Star teams from a pool of students representing all four participating Junior High Schools. Each club gets five slots to fill, and coaches select players who are most deserving of the honor based on skill, attitude, leadership, and commitment. A committee of coaches and league officials then selects one final player to round out the pool at 36 students.
This year's draft pool consisted of seven forwards, sixteen midfielders, ten defenders, and two goalkeepers. Many of those students can play multiple positions, and most will likely have to step into a secondary role at some point during the game as coaches make adjustments in order to control the game and find minutes for everyone.
Each All-Star team gets a coaching staff with volunteers from every school. The managers from the #1 and #2 clubs at the break are awarded head coaching positions, with the remaining coaches divided as their assistants.
This year, Raiders United coach Adam Bean will lead HEB Green with assistance from Spartans' Eduardo Chibli, Real Euless' Joey Hart, and Atlético Central's Tony Spells. Bedford United maestro Peter Sebastian takes the reigns for HEB White, assisted by Stallions' Pepe Davila, Hurst City's Mark Flobeck, and Atlético Central's Mike Jones.
In the early phases of the 2019 draft, both technical staffs leaned on players they knew. HEB White selected a core of players from Stallions FC and Bedford United, while HEB Green focused on acquiring talent from both Hurst clubs and Spartans FC. Draft rules prevent any All-Star side from taking three players from any club before selecting at least two players from every club. As a result, the overall rosters break down evenly between all seven teams in Liga HEB, but it's safe to expect the starting lineups to favor players that each Head Coach knows and trusts.
HEB GREEN will likely line up in a more aggressive formation, having built their roster around a midfield group from Hurst Junior High with an attacking boost from Bedford and a back line that plays together at Central. Their head coach favors possession play, often electing to build from the back and control the ball. Watch for them to make short, smart passes in an attempt to unbalance their opponent.
HEB WHITE, on the other hand, looks to marry the high-speed counterattacking tactics of Stallions FC with the dominant pressure of Bedford United. Their squad will rely on star players from Euless and Bedford to pull the strings in a more fluid offense. Don't be shocked if their goals come more as the result of precision counterattacks unlocked by a talented group of attacking players operating within a more rigid, traditional lineup.
Neither side boasts a definitively strong defense or goalkeeper, so it's safe to say we're in for a fireworks show. Come out for a show at Pennington Field, 5:00 pm next Wednesday.