Stopped By Stoppage Time
The first ever playoff game for RGVFC ended in heartbreaking, historical fashion. After Eric Bird put the Toros up 2-1 late in regulation, it was two goals from Colin Bonner in added time that ended the match, and inaugural season.
The game was back and forth all match, no team truly dominated the other for an extensive amount of time. It was a battle between the strong counter attack chances from OKC, and the possession based offense of RGVFC. The Toros struck first, when Memo timed a pass perfectly to a streaking Ruben Luna, who knocked it past the keeper with his left foot before the half. It would stay 1-0 until after the 70th minute. That’s when the Energy leveled off a cross to header to header sequence that beat Toros’ keeper Devin Perales.
The deadlock last only a couple minutes. That’s when Eric Bird half volleyed a rebound beautifully from outside the box. Unfortunately, that lead wouldn’t hold. It did last until the 5 minutes awarded for stoppage time. In my humble opinion, that was a bit on the high side, but sour grapes I guess. First, it was the equalizer by sub Colin Bonner early into stoppage time, as Perales got caught coming off his line. Then, with RGVFC stunned at conceding that goal, Bonner’s second. The tall, strong attacker’s diving header off a corner kick ended the Toros’ season at the death, 3-2 the final score.
Ballin’ Bulls: Last Week’s Top Three Toros
Dynamo Theory’s Man of the Match Ruben Luna: Dude just scores goals. Luna netted his eighth of the season on a nice left footed shot past the keeper in the first half. He worked tirelessly all night to win the ball in the air, shielding off one or two defenders.
Eric Bird: Bird was consistently winning the ball back for the Toros in the midfield all night. Oh yeah, he also scored the Toros second goal of the match on this nasty half volley!
The Half Volley Maestro: @er1c_b1rd@RGVFC up 2-1 #RGVvOKC #USLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/XQbYWrKVqT— USL (@USL) October 2, 2016
Memo Rodriguez: Providing the first assist of the night, Memo was very active and attack minded for RGVFC. He had a few near misses as well.
Captain Kevin Garcia on how proud he is of this squad:
“I'm incredibly proud of how much this group has grown over the past season. The chemistry on and off the field was unlike anything I've ever experienced before. It was amazing to be a part of it and I'm glad to call them my family. I couldn't have picked a better group of guys to set the foundation for the club.”
Gorgeous George Malki gives the Toros supporters props:
“The crowd was fantastic all year. Even though we didn't have a stadium, and it wasn't the ideal situation, the fans stood by our side and supported us each and every game. We can't thank them enough for the energy that they brought. It really helped us out!”
Ruben Luna explains how close the bond of this team is:
“We have a very special bond in this team, it's not usual that teams have this. I felt this same bond only one other time, and it was when I was with FC Dallas and we got to the MLS cup final. I was so sure we would could win this. We all became brothers and we back each other up.”
The Good Guys: Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (14-8-9)
It was an abrupt, unfortunate early exit for the Toros. They ended their inaugural season in the first round of the playoffs, and have nothing to hang their heads about. Throughout this year, they played exceptional, possession based soccer, and were a nightmare to play against for 90+ minutes. They had Ruben Luna leading the charge with 8 goals, followed by Eric Bird with 7, and Memo/Dzenan Catic/Emilio Garcia tying at 6. TJ Casner was great up the flanks, providing five assists. Kyle Murphy and Yair Arboleda also added great pace, and chance creating from the outside. The midfield was controlled by ironman Charlie Ward and Jorginho James. Ward, the master distributor, James, the huge Jamaican enforcer. The solid centerback pairing of Taylor Hunter and Ivan Magalhaes proved to be hard to break down. That duo, combined with the fullback trio of captain Kevin Garcia, George Malki, and Kai Greene was one of the best defensive units in the league. Behind them, Devin Perales and Callum Irving were both in net, Irving finishing with a .67 goals against average. Rob Lovejoy, Mauro Manotas, and the rest of the gameday Dynamo loanees made their presence felt in the Valley. Youngsters Christian Lucatero and Charly Flores got to experience their first professional action, and they will likely get another chance to grow with RGVFC next year. Wilmer Cabrera and his staff, week in and week out, had a great gameplan, and kept the boys consistent. Overall, it was an incredibly successful debut season, and next year, hopefully with a brand new, state of the art stadium, the club will only get better.
We March On
Tomorrow, the Q&A with top vote getter Charlie Ward will be published here at DT. In the coming weeks, I’ll have more player interviews, as well as my official end of the season grading of the roster. Even though the season is over, still keep tabs on Dynamo Theory for any roster announcements, Q&A’s with President Bert Garcia, or other exciting things. I had a blast in our first season together RGVFC fans, and can’t wait till 2017! Somos Toros!