In a game where the RGVFC Toros hardly looked like a first time out expansion side, the Tulsa Roughnecks were still the only team able to find the net, winning a 2-0 match at ONEOK Field.
The Result For The Roughnecks
It's hard to have expectations of something, when you have nothing previous to compare it to. But somehow, the Toros' play exceeded expectations in most senses, obviously the scoreboard not included. RGVFC came out and established themselves as the leaders in possession, a theme that remained true for most of, if not all of, the match. Another reason for little to no expectations,was even with communication with the club and players, even I didn't know who would actually be in uniform Saturday, let alone in the starting 11. One of the more exciting members of the starting squad was Houston Dynamo loanee Bradley Bourgeois. He was a player I pictured as a perfect fit for the young expansion side, and he showed that promise on Saturday. Playing in a wing position, he used his elite athleticism to take off on runs down the right side the entire match. Another exciting piece was seeing Memo Rodriguez get a full 90+ for the Toros, following his rookie year in Charleston where playing time was harder to come by for the young Dynamo Homegrown product. Also both Dynamo Academy youngsters Charly Flores and Christian Lucatero subbed on late. Lucatero beautifully struck a corner in the closing minutes but it wasn't able to be put on goal.
Back to the beginning, as I said, the Toros were the more ball dominant team early and were also the first to have a legit chance on goal. Literally, on goal. A laser shot by Dzenan Catic blasted off the post for RGVFC, followed by another shot off iron, this time by Memo. It would turn out to be that kind of night for RGVFC. The match remained scoreless until an odd, and possibly controversial series of events in the 32nd minute. The Roughnecks were awarded a free kick in a dangerous area, and they sent a ball towards the back post where their mammoth defender Anthony Peters went up for the ball, contested by Toros captain Kevin Garcia. They collided in the air and Garcia went down holding his head but as he went down, the ball bounced back out to a Tulsa player who banked a shot off the injured Garcia for a goal. An incredibly difficult opportunity for an official to stop play for the down player, but to allow your first goal as a franchise off a fluke play like that really took the air out of the Toros. The game took another bad turn almost immediately as the second half kicked off, when Carlos Martinez settled a failed clearance by the Toros at his foot and sent an absolute rope into the far corner. I know it was a goal against us, but you have to take a peek at this one...
The Toros kept pressing forward and trying to throw shots at the Tulsa keeper but frustratingly, most of those attempts either went well wide of the goal or were directly at him. The two potentially best chances were a cross right to the head of Eric Bird feet in front of the keeper, who got strong contact on the ball, but headed it directly to the keepers hands and a defensive mishap that let Catic get in 1 on 1 with the keeper, but the keepers boot deflecting the shot just wide.
My overall reaction to the match is overwhelmingly positive. Obviously, a three point debut would have been nice, but the team did not look like a rookie side. They passed the ball well in the midfield, shut down attacks when they needed to and forced the opposing keeper to make 12 saves. As they get more comfortable against other USL sides and with one another, this team will surprise some people and take some results in the Western Conference.
Ballin' Bulls- Three Toros Who Caught My Eye
Jose "Memo" Rodriguez: The second year pro really showed flashes of what he can provide RGVFC in the attacking midfield. He was the primary set piece taker and even had a free kick glance off the post, as well as a regular strike from outside the box.
Bradley Bourgeois: In the nicest way possible, B Twice is stupid athletic. He spent 90+ minutes on Saturday flying up and down the right side of the pitch. If not for a couple slips on the baseball/soccer mashup turf, he may have been able to send more crosses into the box or more shots from near the endline. He also was able to track down Tulsa attackers from the other end of the field. This is one writer who is hopeful we see a lot more of Bourgeois on the Toros gameday roster.
Charlie Ward: The English international did an exceptional job in the midfield for RGVFC, as he was often the link from the Toros backline to the attacking side of things. He was great on the ball and is always looking to set up a teammate in the attacking third.
Talkin' With The Toros
TJ Casner on what he thought the Toros did best Saturday:
" I think what we did best was possess the ball in the attacking half of the field whether it was simple passing or switching the point of attack mainly from left to right. It wasn't perfect, but we showed good stretches of being able to keep the ball for extended periods of time in the opposition's half and created a fair amount of fantastic chances. If we continue to improve our consistency of that type of play and add a finishing touch, we have the ability to be a very dangerous team."
Jorginho "Moon Man" James on if he was surprised at how well the Toros possessed the ball Saturday:
" No, we've been doing it right throughout our games we've been playing in preseason. That's our style."
Charlie Ward on how he enjoyed his first match in the US & USL:
" It was really good and can not wait for the next game to come around so we can get a win, but I'm happy mate,really happy with how I played and the team. Just need a better result and to take our chances, but I'm happy it was my first 90 minutes in 8-9 months."
Next Running Of The Bulls:
Friday April 8th @ Portland Timbers 2 9pm CST