Splish, Splash, Split Points In Seattle
On a very wet evening in the Pacific Northwest, the Toros and Seattle Sounders FC 2 battled to a 2-2 draw last Tuesday. S2 entered the match with a goose egg in not only the point department, but also in the goal department. The latter changed pretty quickly into the match. A great counter attack found Victor Mansaray played into the box, where he tapped a great shot from his left foot past Devin Perales. Perales redeemed himself in the 30th minute as he was able to rise up and tip an Andy Craven header from point blank range over the bar. The miss would be a trend for Kraven on the evening, constantly finding himself in scoring areas but never finding the net. He ended the match officially with 5 shots, 3 on goal. The Toros played average in the first half, but their passing and possession was not as crisp as it had been in the first two matches this season. As Milli Vanilli suggested years ago, maybe RGVFC should have just blamed it on the rain, that was fallin', fallin'!
The Toros began to find their groove as the second half got underway. 5 minutes in, Jose Escalante led a quick counter attack, finding Dzenan Catic on the left side of the box, who scooted one across through traffic, past the likely intended target Memo Rodriguez. Fortunately for RGVFC, George Malki was actively pursuing the action and the ball came straight to his foot, in stride. Gorgeous George calmly put one past the keeper to level the score. The score wouldn't be even for long. Bradley Bourgeois sent a perfect cross into the box that found the head of fellow Houston Dynamo loanee, and Toros captain for the match, Collen Warner who redirected it towards Emilio Garcia. While the Mexican midfielder was credited with the goal, it appears by all accounts to have been deflected into the net by an S2 defender. Either way, the Toros went up 2-1 in the 53rd minute. However, the tides would turn again, as a player who haunted the Dynamo 2 days beforehand would torment the Toros. Oalex Anderson subbed on and was a menace for S2, pressuring the RGVFC backline and setting up chances. Perales and the defense were able to nullify all the quality attempts until a free kick in the 84th minute. A well struck ball found Tony Alfaro unmarked charging right in front of Perales and he buried the header to level the match with little time left. Both teams continued pressing for the winner, but none of the attacks could break up the stalemate at 2.
Ballin' Bulls: Three Toros Who Caught My Eye
Dynamo Theory's Man Of The Match Jose Escalante: It would be difficult to watch a Toros' match and not come away very impressed with Escalante. He is confident on the ball, incredibly quick, and is the engine to the offense at this point. The opponents broadcasting teams, both Seattle and Portland, have continually heaped praise on the young Honduran. This week, the USL did as well. He became the first Toro to be recognized on the USL Team of the Week, finding a place among the reserves.
Collen Warner: The Dynamo loanee was working his way back from injury playing with the Toros on the Pacific roadtrip. While it should be no surprise a longtime MLS veteran is a top player in a USL match, it truly speaks to his leadership and commitment to the Dynamo organization that he was a captain both matches, worked extremely hard and was an incredible steadying presence in the middle of the park. It would have been easy for him to just go through the motions and get his legs under him, but he didn't by any means and contributed to a very successful roadtrip.
George Malki: One of the veterans of the young Toros' side, Malki was been a sure thing in most of his action this year. Working hard defending, calmly controlled the ball in the defensive zone and never hesitating to join the attack when appropriate. His hard work and effort paid off with a great opportunity with the ball on his foot Tuesday, Gorgeous George did not disappoint, slotting a first touch shot by the keeper and tallying his first RGVFC goal.
The Next Running Of The Bulls:
Saturday 4/23 at 8pm CST
Watch it live and join the match day conversation HERE.
The Good Guys: Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (1-1-1)
The Toros were impressive in their two game Pacific Northwest road trip, coming away with their first win and draw of the season. The emergence of Escalante cannot be overstated, he is propelling the attack and the opponent's focus on stopping his runs allows for other forward Toros to find good opportunities. The back line has been a constantly flowing unit, with Bourgeois and Kevin Garcia as the only two players to start all three matches so far. Devin Perales has been consistent in net, it will be nice to see if he can continue making the routine saves he's continually faced, while striving to stop more that he has no business saving, i.e. the header from Craven. Christian Lucatero and Charly Flores subbed in late against S2, with Lucatero actually having one the best chances late to break the 2-2 tie, but his shot was blocked. One thing to keep an eye on going forward will be how much more time the two youngsters will be allocated on the pitch, especially Lucatero, who has been a spark plug both of his brief appearances thus far. As it will be most of the matches this year, it will be a mystery what Dynamo players venture down to help out the Toros, but keep an eye on Bourgeois, who has started all three matches and has been a big plus for RGVFC, instead of sitting idly on the bench on matchdays with Houston.
The Bad Guys: Real Monarchs SLC (2-1-1)
The Real Salt Lake USL side lost their first match this season on Friday, 1-0 to Arizona United. Previous to that, they started their season off with two 1-0 victories and a 3-3 draw sandwiched in between. El Salvadorian national teamer Maikon Orellana has led the attack for the Monarchs, with a team high three goals, along with one assist. He's joined in the attack by one of Top Drawer Soccer's Top Young USL Players to watch in 2016, Andrew Brody. The RSL academy man skipped his last year of college at Louisville to join the Monarchs. A couple other names to watch, are RSL Homegrown keeper Lalo Fernandez, who has started two of the club's matches and Kevaughn Frater, a Harbour View FC teammate and long time friend of Toros' midfielder Jorginho James. This match will be another one that closely lines up with the senior side showdown, as the Dynamo follow RGVFC into the Beehive State the next week, facing RSL on 4/30.
Talkin' With The Toros
Dynamo loanee Sebastien Ibeagha on his two match stint with RGVFC:
"It was really good. I believe in what Wilmer wants out of the guys and I believe the results will start getting better and better. With that being said, I'm a little disappointed we couldn't get all 6 points out of that trip because I felt we really deserved it"
Jorginho James on getting to play against friend and Jamaican club teammate Kevaughn Frater:
"Well I am really excited to play against him, we are always on the same team back home. Won titles back home together in our club Harbour View FC. So it's very good to see who takes 3 points coming this weekend."
Charlie Ward on getting a draw, but not a win against Sounders 2:
"I think as a team we done well to pull it back to 1-1 and then get in front,which was a real positive. But then to let in a cheap free kick at the end of the game was a real gutting feeling.We didn't earn a point, we lost 2, but if someone would have told us we would have picked up 4 points on the road we would of snatched straight at it. So we are happy and look to bounce back with a win this coming weekend in a match we will prepare to win as always."