By Kim DeRaedt
The New Year is typically viewed as a clean slate, a chance to leave the past behind and forge ahead toward one’s dreams. While ambitions are admired, resolutions are rough. It just isn’t that easy to turn the ship around, especially when both teams are streaking in the wrong direction.
Regals FC and Texas Lonestrikers set sail on their Southern Premier Soccer League (SPSL) voyage on Oct. 2 in Nacogdoches. The Lonestrikers were handed a 7-0 defeat, their compass was warped and their dream boat lost at sea for three months in the jerky waters. Meanwhile, Regals FC hoisted its sails and proudly waved its flag at the front of the pack until a recent attack punctured a hole in the team’s deck and threatened to sink its treasure.
Indeed, Regals FC were the alleged golden men of the SPSL having motored to a 5-0 start while outscoring opponents 32-4. The season was like a Caribbean cruise; that is, until Pirate SC hijacked the ship and stole a 2-0 victory from right under Regals FC’s nose.
Like a mouth full of salt water, Regals FC coach Miguel Landaverde and his players did not like the taste of defeat.
“Words cannot describe it, but all I can say is that it wasn’t a good experience,” Landaverde said. “It’s tough to lose and especially to a soccer enemy. Our guys learned a lesson, that’s for sure.”
The loss occurred over a month ago and for five weeks, the team has been anxiously waiting to snap its one-game losing streak and erase all notions of imperfection from their egos and the minds of fans as well.
“The Pirate SC game showed us that we are nobody yet,” Landaverde said. “We’ve been training really hard lately and have become better players and people. Now it’s time to prove ourselves and demonstrate the power of Regals FC. We are ready.”
It’s hard to pity these perfectionists, however, when the Texas Lonestrikers have been drifting aimlessly since mid-October. Their search and rescue mission to locate and salvage three points from a single match has come up empty since the club’s only triumph on Oct. 16 over Corpus Christi.
Not to fear, Lonestrikers coach Gerardo Romero believes his crew has detected a victory on its radar.
“We’re not the same Lonestrikers team as last time,” Romero said. “We’re not going to roll over dead. The team has welcomed a new coach and new players, which has made us more fit, physical and tactically organized. It’s something Regals FC hasn’t seen yet, and there’s no reason why we can’t beat them.”
That’s a pretty strong statement considering the second time the Nacogdoches gang faced Regals FC, the team succumbed to a 6-0 whitewash. Nevertheless, Romero has reason to believe that the tide has changed in his favor. His team is coming off two close encounters against a formidable Tulsa Lobos FC squad. The Lonestrikers’ narrow 1-0 defeat to the Lobos in the first leg of the Dec. 18-19 weekend melee caused general manager Nelson Puerta to label the Lonestrikers as “the toughest team we’ve faced thus far.” Romero agrees.
“We showed against Tulsa that we can compete with the league’s best,” Romero said. “We made great strides in such short time and will only get stronger as we fine-tune our game plan. Our performance against Tulsa opened a lot of people’s eyes and gave us much needed confidence.”
But that was Tulsa, and the result was still a loss. The Lonestrikers hope that the New Year will bring a stop to defeats and a start to tallies in the win column. As for Regals FC, the team will look to obliterate its losing skid before it doubles in size and begin streaking in the right direction, toward the SPSL title come spring.
Saturday’s match kicks-off at 3 p.m. at Maya Park in Houston. Tickets are $10. Children 12 and under are free.