By Kim DeRaedt
Winning isn’t the only thing in sports. When a club has such a rich tradition as Regals FC, it’s not a matter of “if” the team wins but rather “how much” the team wins by. Regals FC will take the field against Houston Dynamo Academy at 2:15 p.m. today at La Escondida Park in Houston with the hope of making a statement it has been unable to establish in the clubs’ previous three meetings.
With all due respect, Houston Dynamo Academy, a feeder program for the MLS squad, is a talented group of young prospects. However, Regals FC coach Miguel Landaverde leads a team that currently sits atop the Southern Premier Soccer League (SPSL). Following two dominating league performances, Landaverde looks to use today’s match to make a name for his team and the league in the greater Houston area and beyond.
If Regals FC’s offense continues at its current pace, Landaverde should have no problem overcoming a formidable Dynamo group. Regals FC exploded for five first-half goals in a 7-0 road victory against Texas Lonestrikers in its season opener before hitting double digits in an 11-1 home victory against Corpus Christi Fuel last weekend.
Yet there is something about Dynamo Academy that presents Regals FC with an extra challenge. In the clubs’ three prior matchups, Regals FC has found itself knotted in a tight battle. Dynamo Academy clinched the inaugural meeting in March with a 1-0 victory. Regals FC has had to come from behind to eke out narrow one-goal victories since then. The first was a 2-1 triumph in June; the latter a scrappy 6-5 victory in late August.
“Dynamo Academy is a well-trained team,” Landaverde said. “They give us fits. The players are very fast, very physical and have a great touch on the ball. We know we can’t afford to have a bad day.”
After three games, Landaverde and his Regals FC crew aren’t about to be surprised by Dynamo Academy’s superb control. The team will take a no-nonsense attitude into today’s match and focus on jumping ahead of its opponents early to set the game’s tone.
“We’ve definitely talked about the first 10 minutes being critical,” Landaverde said. “We scored three goals in the first 10 minutes against Corpus Christi, and it really set the tone for the game. A team just can’t come back from a deficit like that.”
Still, the task will be difficult as a bitter rivalry has already been cemented between these elite programs. Both will step up their games in what is sure to be a fiery friendly.
“Every time we play Dynamo Academy, it’s a highly contested match,” Landaverde said. “The only thing that is guaranteed is extremely fast and physical soccer from two talented teams. We haven’t played strongly against them before, and it’s time we establish some separation between us.”
As much as today’s game will likely mirror the hostility of times past, there will be a more affecting atmosphere that will bring the teams together prior to kick-off. Today’s game will serve as a benefit match for Franco Olascoaga, a former Regals FC player who was recently killed by lightning while coaching. All game proceeds, including a $5 parking fee, will go toward benefiting the Olascoaga family. Donations will also be collected.
Landaverde encourages Regals FC fans to come out and support one of their own.
“We had a great turnout at last week’s benefit match against Corpus Christi,” Landaverde said. “Franco meant so much to our team, though. He was so dedicated. It’d only be proper if we showed the same support in return. We’re all brothers in the Regals FC family.”
As if the team needed any more motivation to bring its best game to La Escondida Park, Landaverde’s players have committed their utmost effort for a former teammate who gave them nothing shy of his all.
“The one thing that set Franco apart was his work ethic,” Landaverde said. “He was such a passionate player. Every practice, every game you knew you were going to get 100% out of him. That’s something you can’t teach.”
Regals FC has a lot riding on today’s game. The team is looking to make a statement, to etch a legacy of passion and skill—one that Olascoaga has already engraved as he watches from above.
“We want to show everyone who Regals FC is,” Landaverde said. “More importantly, we want to remember who Franco was. We’re playing this game to honor him. We want to make him proud, and Franco was never one to be easily satisfied. We need to win and win big.”