A Real Good Ending To A Road Trip
RGVFC began their season with four straight road matches, originally to allow for the completion of their new stadium by their week 5 home opener. The stadium completion has been pushed back due to inclement weather and additions to the plan. (I should have a full interview with team president Bert Garcia in the next few weeks.) Either way, the run of road games to start the year was a bold move, especially with a brand new club. The powers that be knew what they were doing. The Toros find themselves only 3 points behind the Western Conference leading LA Galaxy II, their opponent this week, despite playing two less matches.
RGVFC secured their second win on the young season at Rio Tinto Stadium as they took on Real Salt Lake's Real Monarchs SLC. It was a rainy night in Utah, the second wet pitch the Toros played on in as many games. Joining the usual roster were Houston Dynamo loanees Calle Brown, Mauro Manotas and Sebastien Ibeagha. All three were in the starting 11, Brown and Manotas in their first RGVFC action, Ibeagha in his third straight match. The player to watch according to the Monarchs broadcast was Jose Escalante. He, as usual, did not disappoint. In the 4th minute, he found himself on the end of a picture perfect cross from Charlie Ward. The defender rising up to defender against Escalante getting a head to the ball knocked it into his own net, unfortunately, Jose had been whistled offside. Following a near miss on a VERY quick take of a free kick by the Monarchs, the Toros would find the goal again, this time it counted. A great combination play beginning with a back heel from Manotas to TJ Casner, followed by a great through ball to a streaking barely onside Escalante, who calmly knocked it past the keeper for his first USL goal. Manotas almost found a USL goal of his own at the end of the first half. Again following a beautiful pass from Casner, Mauro was 1 on 1 with the keeper. As he tried to dribble past, he was tripped up, according to the official, not by a purposeful act by the keeper and was not able to get a clean shot off.
The second half was not too eventful as both teams created a few chances, but nothing that effected the scoreboard. The Toros ended up with two shots on goal, one being the Escalante goal and Real Monarchs only forced Calle Brown to make one save on 10 total shots. The Dynamo keeper was a steady presence in net and did a great job distributing the ball from the goal.
Ballin' Bulls: Three Toros Who Caught My Eye
Dynamo Theory's Man Of The Match Jose Escalante (3rd time): You're shocked, right? Escalante has been nothing but electrifying since making his Toros debut in Week Two. He relentlessly, and skillfully, attacks defenders on the ball and is constantly making attacking runs away from the ball. He found his first USL goal this week, and earned himself a week of practice with the Dynamo first team, along with Kevin Garcia, where he is sure to turn some heads. He was also a USL Team Of The Week reserve for the second straight week.
Charlie Ward: The former Stoke City U-21 man has played exceptional in the midfield of late. Always one to control the ball and make the smart pass, Ward also added a gorgeous cross that resulted in the offside nullified own goal.
TJ Casner: Getting a start at the wing spot opposite Escalante, Casner continually pushed the ball forward and created chances for RGVFC. He shot twice and got his first assist of the season on the lone Toros' goal.
The Next Running Of The Bulls:
Saturday 4/30 at 7:30pm CDT
Watch it live HERE.
The Good Guys: RGVFC Toros (2-1-1)
Saturday's win earned the Toros their first appearance on the USL's Top 10 Power Ranking, coming in at #10. Finally being able to play in front of their home fans after four straight road matches will certainly give the young team a boost. The lineup per usual will be configured last minute with Dynamo loanees, my prediction will be a contingent of Bourgeois and Ibeagha, with a random forward possibly added on. One would assume Devin Perales will be back in goal, with Calle Brown serving as the Dynamo backup to Joe Willis due to Tyler Deric getting a red card, whether it was deserved or not, I'll leave up to the writers on our staff who cover the Dynamo more closely. I digress.
The Bad Guys: LA Galaxy II aka Los Dos (2-0-4)
Los Dos sits atop of the Western Conference with 10 points and at #4 on the USL Power Rankings.They also find themselves at the top of goals scored across the entire USL with 12. Jack McBean has done the most damage with 5 goals and one assist. It's not yet known if the Toros will have to worry about defending Ariel Lassiter, or as he's more affectionately known, The Goal Puppy. The Costa Rican Galaxy first team loanee has appeared in half of Los Dos' matches this season, scoring a brace against Arizona United. LA possesses one of the top returning keepers in the USL, Clement Diop, whose on loan from the senior side. He helped lead Los Dos to the USL Championship Match last season, making 24 starts. One thing to keep in mind if the Toros fall behind on Saturday is the Galaxy II side has lost leads in three straight matches and have had to settle for four straight draws after starting the year with two wins.
Talkin' With The Toros:
Jose Escalante on getting to train with Houston's first team this week:
*Translated* " I am happy to be here. I want to stay and play with the Dynamo."
Juan "Charly" Flores talks about the excitement of the club making it's home debut:
"It is a great feeling for all of the players. I can honestly talk for the team, we are very excited to play our first game here in Edinburg, especially knowing that we will have quite a lot of fans to come out to support us. It is a great feeling, even more so, after playing away for the last 4 games. I am honestly buzzing to play in front of our fans here at UTRGV Stadium this Saturday."
Toros' captain Kevin Garcia and fellow defender George Malki on how the defense will look to slow down the high scoring Los Dos attack:
"Defensively we've been progressing each match, limiting scoring opportunities. We need to continue to communicate and make sure we are positionally sound. It will be a good test for us and we're definitely not going to make it easy for Galaxy!" - Garcia
"I think for me it's pretty simple. We need to obviously match their intensity from the get go, communicate well through the lines, provide cover for each other, and most importantly I think that we need to come out sharp and dominate possession of the ball in order to limit their attack." - Malki
Lights, Camera, Action
The first official Toros commercial is out and you can see it's awesomeness below!