The Texas Premier Soccer League (TPSL) overcame a number of obstacles to get to last Saturday’s regular season finale…the TPSL League Cup Final. Among these challenges, the Houston teams had to deal with scheduling issues due to Hurricane Harvey last fall, one of the teams left the league mid-season and, as a result, a new Championship game venue needed to be secured.
All of that was forgotten last Saturday afternoon in San Antonio when Twin Cities FC (TC FC) from border city Eagle Pass rode three goals from mid-season addition Braulio Guillen to a 5-1 thumping of the Galveston Hurricanes at Tapatio Soccer Complex on the Alamo City’s southwest side.
Guillen, who produced 24 regular season goals in 6 matches after his arrival, scored a natural hat-trick to lead the way. A first half goal on a breakaway allowed Twin Cities to go into half-time with the lead. Galveston leveled right after the beginning of the second half through Chigozie “Okie” Okorie. Guillen then took over, scoring approximately 15 minutes into the second half to take the lead and then again shortly after to make any comeback tough for the Hurricanes. The victory was sealed when Guillen was brought down in the box late in the match and Twin Cities team captain Sulio Rodriquez converted the penalty. The scoring was concluded just before time when Jorge Gonzalez scored the final of Twin Cities four unanswered second half goals.
After Guillen broke through the Galveston defense and opened the scoring, the Hurricanes controlled possession during the remainder of the half and were unlucky to level the match. The Hurricanes goal finally came early in the second half when Okorie scored on a header from short distance. Okorie, a winger who at one point played for the Houston Dynamo U-23’s, and withdrawn forward/attacking midfielder Blane Nauck were especially dangerous during this sequence. Nauck came close to scoring twice, but shot the ball just wide on one attempt in the first half and hit the woodwork on another in the second.
Then came the deluge of goals from Guillen and Twin Cities which finally allowed them to lift their first TPSL League Cup, after coming up short multiple time in the last few years.
Twin Cities Owner and Head Coach Jesse Gonzalez, who was involved in all of the disappointing Championship results over the last few years, was both relieved and ecstatic after the game. “After all these years to finally get it, its incredible.” He also celebrated the good fortune that came when Guillen moved to Eagle Pass midyear and joined the team. “It is just like he fell out of heaven for us,” Gonzalez joked.
The Hurricanes, who were also trying to win their first Championship, played short-handed as key midfield starters were unavailable due to injury and only three substitutes were available on the bench. Hurricanes Owner and Head coach Brendan Keyes did not use that as an excuse after the match “You can’t take anything away from Twin Cities. They were the best team today, 4 goals in the second half, and (they) deserved to win it.” Twin Cities was also awarded the Shield for having the best regular season record after the match by league President Brendan Keyes.
The 2017/18 season still has one trophy to contest before the season comes to an end. The Texas Cup (a competition similar to the U.S. Open Cup-which is also open to other invited amateur teams in Texas) will be played in the next few weeks. The Hurricanes will face Austin in the second leg of one semifinal to determine who will face Twin Cities FC in the final.
Brendan Keyes, wearing his hat as League President, was bullish about the upcoming 2018/19 season. Two new teams, FC Waco and a reserve side for NPSL team Houston Regals, have been announced to date. They are also in talks with three additional teams and Keyes said the goal is to begin the next season (later this year) with eight teams.
That is all for the future. Twin Cities, if they win the Texas Cup, will capture all three trophies this year. Regardless of the results in the Texas Cup, this is already truly a season for Coach Gonzalez and his team to remember.