The Memorial Cup match on Saturday 21 gave the Pirate players and staff the opportunity to show how far they have progressed this season as they took to the field against CD Houston, who belong to the HFA Premier League stable of sides.
Their opponents may currently sit bottom of the top league but despite this, coach Brendan Keyes was never going to take that position as a gauge for the standard of quality his opponents have. During the preparations for this match, the Irishman was never going to underestimate the Houston side and worked on preparing his players mentally as well as physically.
The match started quickly with CD Houston coming straight out the blocks playing some good football and proving their league position is a false one, but it was the Pirates who opened the scoring after eight minutes when Fabrice Bongo crossed a ball in for Jonathan Yanez who took the opportunity with a sweet volley from 18 yards out that saw the ball nestle nicely low in the bottom right hand corner of the goal.
The Pirates almost doubled their lead only two minutes later only for the post to save Houston and keep the result at only 1-0 thus far.
The game swung back and forth and although the Pirates were having the better of the chances, they failed to build on their lead and almost paid the penalty in more ways than one when they relinquished a spot kick which was subsequently blasted over much to the relief of the Galveston coach.
Coach Keyes said of his halftime team talk, "I told the guys that we were in complete control but needed to finish better, not to give Houston so much time on the ball and to spread the ball out to the wings a bit more."
The players seemed to take the coaches words on board and before long the Pirates made it 2-0 when Michael Hutson scored from 10 yards out after he latched onto the end of a beautiful six-pass buildup before firing home.
This goal seemed to give the players a lift and from that point they were in control of the game and never looked in danger of losing.
The third goal was added when Fabrice Bongo beautifully chipped the goalkeeper from 30 yards out, and although Houston still never gave up, they were being totally out classed by the superior Galveston team who were now playing with swagger and style.
Former Cruz Azul player Taylor Lubianski scored the team's fourth with some clever play that saw him side step two defenders and bewilder the keeper into committing himself before chipping home over the 6'6" goalie to put the game out of sight.
Although on easy street at this point, the Pirates looked like they wanted more and without reply added another two goals from Jose Reyna, the second of which came from the penalty spot after Reyna's original shot was handled on the line by a Houston defender to stop a goal, but the attacker took the spot kick himself with the ball bulging the net to end the scoring 6-0 for the Pirate team.
After the game, coach Keyes said:
It was a fantastic performance today as CD Houston play some good football and it was nice to win and win big against a premier league team and fly the flag for the Championship sides. On this performance and on our current form, I believe we will be playing in the premier league next season but we need to keep it going and don't let up.
When the draw was made I was happy with our opponents. I want to play the best teams available so we can improve as a team and a club; You don't get better playing poor teams.
The cup run is nice but our goal is to gain promotion to the next level through this league. I believe HFA is the very best league in Texas with some great teams and players. It's run very professionally run and we enjoy playing in it.
Carrying on he said:
I was happy to get a Premiership team in the cup because I know we could compete and perhaps win but I didn't expect to win 6-0. It was a marvelous performance from everyone on the team and the guys deserve all the credit for what I would class as the best performance from a Pirate team ever.
When asked who he thought the man of the match was he replied:
That's a hard one to answer as the whole team played great but when having to pick one player, I think Jonathan Yanez deserves the plaudits for MVP for his superb goal and two assists. He is pure class and good enough to play at a higher level, maybe MLS, definitely NASL when he gets 100 percent back fit. RJ was also magnificent tonight and a great leader once again, the guys really respond to him as captain of the team.
After being lined up with ASC Stars in Mondays draw for the last 16, coach Keyes said:
I am happy with the team we have been chosen to play against. It's another Premier League side which gives us another chance to prove we can cut it with the so called better teams. With only 16 teams now remaining, chances of silverware are getting more and more realistic for us as we head toward our inaugural NPSL season.
All quotes were obtained first-hand unless otherwise noted.