By Kim DeRaedt
A sneak peak into this weekend’s Southern Premier Soccer League (SPSL) matchups appears to foreshadow two distinct storylines enclosed in two separate genres. For those of you seeking an action or adventure show, Club America Academy versus Tulsa Lobos FC is worth the price of admission. If you prefer something more romantic, fall in love with the underdog Corpus Christi Fuel squad, or if documentaries are more your style, follow Regals FC on its southwestern journey to extend its unbeaten streak to double digits. Either way you slice it, there’s SPSL action to satisfy every fan’s viewing pleasures.
Scene 1: Nov. 20 at 3 p.m.—Regals FC at Corpus Christi Fuel
Not exactly nominated for suspense/thriller of the year, this is a re-match of an Oct. 24 fixture, which Regals FC owned 11-1. The lone factor breathing life into this otherwise dull duel is a five-hour trek that will attempt to drain the energy from the Regals FC engine that just keeps running. If you’re looking for Regals FC’s last loss, you’ll have to flip back to the Sept. 26 archives. If you’re curious about Corpus Christi’s previous SPSL victory, no archive will bring you to the desired report. Two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum, a confident Regals FC bunch will be riding a nine-game unbeaten streak including a 3-0 start in SPSL play, while the Corpus Christi crew sits desperate in the gutters with an 0-6 league record. Fuel coach Patrick Esqueda believes that improvement is a realistic focus for Saturday’s match.
“Last time we played Regals FC, we had a complete meltdown,” Esqueda said. “Our guys weren’t prepared for that level of competition and didn’t know what to expect. We won’t be shocked this time. I’ll have Sean Mohler, Josh Vela and Andrew Perez back for this game. These are three great players that we’ve been missing, and they’ll definitely contribute to our goal of constant, overall improvement.”
Meanwhile, Regals FC coach Miguel Landaverde is a little more rigid in the result he anticipates from the game.
“I expect to head back to Houston with a win,” Landaverde said. “I don’t see why not. We’re travelling with all of our starters. Sure, Corpus Christi will be ready to give us a tough game, but I’m confident and so are the guys. We have a good group right here.”
Scene 2: Nov. 20 at 4 p.m.–Tulsa Lobos FC at Club America Academy
For those not suffering from heart problems or other medical conditions, prepare for an intense match full of twists, turns and surprises as Club America Academy welcomes the Lobos into Houston. Tulsa proved to be a road warrior when the team snatched a 6-0 and 2-0 victory at Corpus Christi in its first endeavor of the season. However, a Club America side that was once equally as mysterious left no doubt of its ability in an impressive, hard-fought 1-0 loss to Galveston Pirate SC in its opener. It would seem as if this matchup features two teams vying for the league title, yet Tulsa FC general manager Nelson Puerta and Club America Academy coach Thiago Costa Reis wouldn’t trade their troops for any other. Both like their odds. Both are prepared and focused for battle.
“It’s hard to prepare for Club America given that it is such a new team,” Puerta said. “They were just put together, but we understand that they’ll be tough. They were impressive in their first match, and we expect nothing but their best once again.”
“Tulsa will be just as tough as Galveston,” Reis said. “We’ll take what we learned from the last game and hone in on that during training. Right now, we need to familiarize ourselves with each other, get our feet on the ground and get off to a good start.”
“We’ll be focused on ball control, finishing and short passes,” Puerta said. “That’s great soccer. That’s what we’re all about. We know it will be one of our toughest matches, but we plan on approaching it with the same confidence and positive mentality that we take into every game.”
“I was pleased with our technical ability against Pirate SC,” Reis said. “I’d like to see our tactical ability, as far as team chemistry, improve this weekend. We’re a skilled team, and if we just play our game, the results we want will come.”
Scene 3: Nov. 21 at 1 p.m.—Tulsa Lobos FC at Club America Academy
The only thing better than one great matchup is two, and that’s why the SPSL is proud to present an encore presentation as these two teams will be at it again Sunday afternoon. Back-to-back games is not advisable to all, but these SPSL powerhouses are the gifted exception.
On playing back-to-back…
“The hardest part about playing back-to-back is that, like we saw in Corpus Christi, we play great the first match, but then we get worn out and the other team is able to adjust,” Puerta said. “It’s easy to adjust in the short term, so we will play a different style of soccer both days. We have two new signings who will definitely help to keep our level of play up throughout the weekend.”
“Obviously, we’ve never been in this situation before and Tulsa has,” Reis said. “If there’s one thing we showed everybody in our first game, however, it’s that lack of preparation and experience is not a big factor. My guys are ready. There are plenty of players still finding their proper position or fighting for a spot, so the motivation is definitely high.”