The Liga HEB season is short. With only seven teams vying for the Champions Cup, every match matters. Dropping even a point can be the difference between a shot at the title and finishing in the middle of the table. So the fact that Bedford United stole three points on Wednesday night matters. Especially since Stallions FC and Raiders United are on pace to set up the third straight title bout between Hurst and Euless Junior High.
But the Champions Cup match is still months away. Let's talk about Week Two:
Bedford United Steal 5-4 Thriller Against Hurst City
It took two corner kicks and a late penalty, but Bedford United rallied from a 3-1 halftime deficit to take down Hurst City. The Broncos are tough to read at this point in the season; dominating on the offensive side of the ball but seemingly at a loss in their own defensive third. Set pieces made the difference for them on Wednesday night, but their inability to defend in transition and a host of miscues nearly sunk them.
Hurst City took a commanding 2-0 lead in the opening 15 minutes, capitalizing on a mishandled pass back and a corner kick that Bedford failed to convert. Within seconds, City's speedy winger had turned a deflected shot into a run down the left wing and slotted what should have been the deciding goal past a diving keeper. Minutes later, another long ball found its way between two Bedford defenders and to the feet of on oncoming Hurst striker. He went down on the resulting challenge, and the referee awarded Hurst a penalty, which the Broncos' keeper saved in spectacular fashion; kicking out his right leg to deflect the shot back into play.
The Bedford captain put them on the board late in the first half, chipping a deflection neatly into the top corner of the near post. City pushed for another transition goal before the half, but Bedford kept it close with a cheeky corner kick to start the second frame. Their midfielder curled a shot from the corner into the near post, where it caromed off the bar and the Hurst keeper's gloves before finding the net. The teams traded chances after that, with Bedford finally capitalizing on their superior possession to outscore Hurst 4-1 in the second half and steal the win.
Stallions Too Much for Atlético Central in 5-0 Victory
It's going to be another long year for Central unless Spartans have something to show after their week off. Atlético had all they could handle and more when squaring off against a talented Euless squad that is starting to find their identity. Stallions struggled last week, eking out a 1-0 win over Bedford, and came back determined to put any doubts about their legitimacy to bed. They did so in traditional Euless fashion: clogging the center of the pitch and moving quickly along the outside of it.
The Horsemen found the net early and often in the first half, springing free on a series of neat through balls and clever touches that had them up 4-0 by the break. They very nearly scored the goal of the year, as well, launching a 35-yard free kick that pinged the crossbar and the touchline before Central's keeper managed to punch the ball away.
For Atlético, the struggle seems to be less about tactics and more about follow-through. Their initial defense is sound, but the boys in blue found themselves struggling to contain Stallions even when they had the numerical advantage. The final goal of the half saw two Euless players outplay Central's entire back line, centering a ball for their striker who shouldered his man away, danced around another, and slotted home a low shot that never should have had room to move. Even after Stallions pushed their top players to the back to secure the victory, Atlético had a hard time making much of the time they spent on the ball.
Raiders Hang 6-1 Loss on Real Euless
As we suspected, the defending champions are in rough shape after losing most of their key talent to the Trinity High School team. Real Euless fielded a team of raw and uncertain players, and Raiders took full advantage of the opportunity.
Where Real Euless look uncertain in possession — forcing passes too early or holding the ball until it's too late — Raiders are already shaping up to be a well-oiled machine. The Reds move the ball well, shifting the point of attack as they build possession from one of the league's most dependable back lines. On the rare occasions that they lose the ball, they swarm to it. It's an oppressive style of play that choked Euless from the opening whistle.
After opening the scoring with a strong run down the left side that culminated in a 15-yard howler to the top corner, Raiders settled into a rhythm: contain, possess, destroy. They led 4-0 by the half and parked the bus late, often settling for adventurous shots that occasionally found their way through the Real keeper's hands. Even settled into their comfort zone, Raiders surrendered only one goal and put up two more to win the second half 2-1 and finish with a dominating five-goal lead.