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FC Brownsville (left, in gray), the officials (center, in green), and Fort Worth Vaqueros (right, in blue) line up for the dawn of a new season.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to a new feature we’re doing this summer. Starting today, I’ll be covering every Vaqueros’ home game. Having never experienced the home side live, I’m interested to see what I find.

The Vaqueros have played their previous home games at Farrington Field, but this year they’ve relocated to Texas Wesleyan’s home turf, Martin Field. With no bleachers, all the fans are at field level, with the advertising hoardings separating us from the touchline. This gives the game the feel of a Sunday-afternoon kickabout between schools, although these schoolkids are quite large and skilled. Also, there are quite a few more fans here than your average school game would draw. If you squint, the locals in their blue jerseys look like Leicester City, the English team that just won the FA Cup. Opposite them, FC Brownsville are wearing dark gray. You’d think they’d be wearing brown, a jersey color that’s good enough for the Cleveland Browns. The area of the stadium on the fans’ side of the pitch has a lot of kids kicking balls around, so if you look down to check your email, you may wind up nailed in the head by an errant shot.

I’m writing this game report without knowing the players’ names. I hope to update this post as I learn this information, but for now, bear with me. The home team starts by attacking insistently down Brownsville’s left side and finding space to cross. #7 for Fort Worth scuffs his attempt at a scissor kick but manages to nudge the ball to the striker, who nods into the net. It’s a bright start, but the speed of the visitors’ front line is too much for Fort Worth’s defense, as the opposing striker runs through the backline to score a goal and later draw a penalty, which Brownsville converts for their third goal. Fort Worth has some speed up top as well that creates their own one-on-one goal to make the score 2-3 at halftime. About 15 minutes after the restart, the Vaqueros call for a penalty when #7 is pushed down in the penalty box. The ball goes in Brownsville’s net a few seconds later, but the linesman’s flag is up for offside. I think the penalty is the bigger thing, and I wish the stadium had VAR. It would change the complexion of the game if the game were tied at three. A few minutes later, Brownsville scores directly off a long throw-in into the penalty box, and the game is killed off, with several Vaqueros players and coach Nick Stavrou booked for exchanging words with the ref. The final score is 5-2 to the visitors.

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If you’re keeping track of such things, the Vaqueros (along with the entire Lone Star Conference) have been moved into the West Region of the National Premier Soccer League for just this season, because northern California sports remain shut down, thus depriving the West of teams to compete. FWV are in a hole now with two losses in their first two games. They’ll need to make up some ground in the next eight. Watch this spot for my coverage of three of the four remaining home games.

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