South Texas Derby: RGVFC 1, San Antonio 0.
As the term rivalry was thrown around last week in the buildup to RGVFC-SAFC, a lot of people were saying to pump the brakes. They hadn't matched up in the regular season once, maybe it will develop into a decent rivalry. If the first match is any indication, we are well on our way to a legit Southern Texas Derby.
Almost 6000 fans were in attendance to see the first regular season matchup of the two clubs at Toyota Field. The game, in the first half, was broken up into segments of assertiveness for both teams. The sides almost alternated chunks of time to attack the other effectively, with the occasional counter attack sprung in response. As expected in a rivalry, there were some elbows, or forceful tackles exchanged in both directions. But despite the good soccer from the two sides, it went to the half scoreless.
The first really great chance of the second frame came on a through ball for SAFC, setting up Shawn Chin in a great scoring area. That was snuffed out by an incredibly risky, but perfectly executed slide tackle in the area by Ivan Magalhães. It wasn't until the 69th minute that someone would break through. After stealing the ball around the middle of the pitch, TJ Casner skillfully got past a few defenders, then sent a beautiful through ball to Houston Dynamo loanee Rob Lovejoy, who is working his way back from a hamstring injury. Lovejoy took a touch, then sent a low, left footed shot past the keeper. The Toros would double their lead in the 72nd minute. Dynamo Academy product Leo Ayala, getting his first start of the season, raced down the line for a long aerial ball from the RGVFC backline. He was able to outrun a SAFC defender for the ball, and as it nearly crossed the endline, sent a sliding ball towards the middle. It found Dynamo loanee Mauro Manotas, making another start for RGVFC. He slotted one past the keeper near post for his first USL goal. Unfortunately, the two goal lead would not hold. The first goal for SAFC was on a nice chip pass to Manolo Sanchez, who, with no defender in front of him, was able to punch one in past Devin Perales. They equalized in the 84th minute, when a long throw in, added with what looked like miscommunication in front of the net, led to Chin deflected in the tying goal. Late in this early season matchup, neither team settled for a draw, each team sending players forward looking for a winner. That came in stoppage time, with Lovejoy intercepting a pass at midfield and dribbling in before blasting a right footed shot past the keeper. The scoreline held and that proved to be the match winner. It also made USL Goals of the Week for Week 7.
Check out the match highlights below , courtesy of the USL's YouTube channel
Ballin' Bulls: Three Players Who Caught My Eye
Dynamo Theory's Man of the Match Rob Lovejoy: The Dynamo loanee came on for Memo Rodriguez, and netted a brace for the Toros, including the winner in stoppage time.
Mauro Manotas: Another Dynamo loanee who found the net for RGVFC. He led the club with four shots, three of which were on goal.
TJ Casner: A perfect dime to Lovejoy for the first goal of the match. He also did a great job possessing the ball and pushing it forward, also registering a shot on goal. He has established himself as the go to guy for those great, last unlocking passes.
The Good Guys: Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (3-2-1)
The Toros followed up their home opening loss to Los Dos with a strong, exciting win over a rival, and quality opponent. This has them back in the "Best of the Rest" for the USL's weekly Top 10 Power Rankings. The club had their first representation on the USL's Starting XI of the week, with Lovejoy being honored. The matchup with Real Monarchs will be the second match at UTRGV and will be the first time the club plays an opponent for the second time. The Dynamo contingent will be up in the air as usual, possibly a fourth straight start for Mauro Manotas, either Bradley Bourgeois or Sebastien Ibeagha on the backline, maybe Calle Brown faces the Monarchs again? Also, possibly a second rehab appearance for last week's hero Lovejoy.
The Bad Guys: Real Monarchs SLC (2-3-2)
After losing to the Toros 1-0 at home April 23rd, the difference a Jose Escalante goal, things haven't exactly gotten better for Real Salt Lake's USL side. Their last two results are a scoreless draw at home against Seattle Sounders 2 and a 3-1 defeat to Portland Timbers 2 in the Pacific Northwest. In that loss, a half of the shots went to Ricardo Velazco, who finished with 5 of the teams 10. Three of the others belonged to Andrew Brody, who also is the man who found the net for the Monarchs' only goal. El Salvadoran forward Maikon Orellana leads the team in shots and goals this season and will likely be the target of the Toros' defense.
The Dirty Details:
5/13 at 7:30pm CST
Here is the link to WATCH LIVE, but it's not certain the game will be streamed live, similar to the home opener.
Memo Rodriguez on the atmosphere of the rivalry match in San Antonio:
"It was a great atmosphere definitely an atmosphere you want to be part of when you're playing your rivals. The fans obviously try to get under your skin at times but you have to stay focused for 90 minutes."
Jorginho James on how the team can move up in the standings:
"Our intensity needs to be more consistent, then we can show that on the table"
Rob Lovejoy on his experience with the Toros:
"I am thankful for the opportunity to play with RGVFC. Wilmer, his staff, and the players have been welcoming and I look forward to being able to contribute to the team's success in the future."
Kai "Maurice" Greene?
I talked with a Toros player about how, he may not look it, but Rob Lovejoy is legitimately fast. So that made me a bit curious, who is the fastest player on the RGVFC official roster? I was able to get 8 anonymous votes, and every single one, was in favor of Kai Greene. While the headline of a comparison to former world's fastest man, Maurice Greene, may be excessive, Greene has blown by opponents countless times up the right wing, not unlike the GOAT in his 100 meter prime. And according to to his Instagram video, it's not only soccer that he excels at athletically. Maybe he could've helped his alma mater, Seton Hall Pirates, upset Gonzaga in this year's NCAA tournament first round.