The Tale Of Two Matches
You may have been very confused if last week was the first time you watched the Toros this season. On Wednesday, they got shellacked by Swope Park Rangers. On Saturday returning home, they stopped OKC Energy's unbeaten streak with a resounding 3-0 victory.
Usually, mid week soccer is a treat for fans of a club. It is a welcome distraction during the work week grind. The Swope Park-RGVFC last week was anything but welcome for Toros' fans. Leading up to the match, it looked like the matchup would favor RGVFC. Riding a six game unbeaten streak, and with Calle Brown in net, who had only allowed one goal in four starts, things seemed fit for a Toros win. That thinking changed quickly. With captain Kevin Garcia not starting after playing every minute previously, the back-line was in shambles. Not even the lack of Garcia alone could cause the disjointed play. Swope Park, the Sporting Kansas City affiliate, netted three first half goals. A few halftime substitutes couldn't help RGVFC. They allowed yet another goal and were unable to find the net themselves. Kevin Oliveira earned himself USL Player of the Week for that match, scoring a goal and dishing out three assists.
Thankfully, RGVFC had an opportunity to bounce back quickly from the loss with their matchup Saturday against OKC Energy FC. They did just that. With Callum Irving getting his second start, the Toros shut out the hot OKC offense. The scoring was provided by an early Jose Escalante goal that took a deflection, Kyle Murphy's first professional score, and a late tally by Eric Bird. The club was able to accomplish all of this even after Escalante was sent off early in the second half. I'm not sure what the ref thought he saw, but in this humble writer's opinion, it was barely a foul, a stretch for a yellow, and shameful as a red. The club was much more themselves Saturday, especially with Kevin Garcia back wearing the captain's armband. Saturday also featured the debut of newcomer Eric Verso and only the second appearance of young Dynamo Academy product Juan Charly Flores.
Ballin' Bulls: Three Toros Who Caught My Eye
Dynamo Theory's Man of the Matches Jose Escalante: Even with getting a red card in the second half Saturday, the Honduran was his usual explosive self on offense for the Toros. He scored another goal against OKC Energy and created some other great chances for himself.
Kevin Garcia: He showed his worth the most on Wednesday, when he didn't start and the defense looked awful. He returned Saturday and the Toros got a clean sheet.
Kyle Murphy: The rookie forward has increased his activity lately, and was rewarded with a great goal against OKC.
TJ Casner on the importance of bouncing back Saturday:
"I think for all of us, it was a necessity rather than an important game. We are all motivated and we want to win the league. The only way to do that is to consistently be at the top of the table by winning as many matches as possible. It's disappointing that we dropped points, but winning really gave us an insight into our character in resiliency. It speaks to the mentality of our team and that we are up for a challenge."
Ivan Magalhaes on how important Kevin Garcia is to the club:
"Very important! As a captain, and one of the oldest in the group, he brings a lot of leadership."
Callum Irving explains how he's able to perform well, even with limited appearances:
"I think it has to do a lot with the level of training day in and day out. Everyone shows up to work, stays sharp, and pushes each other, that helps to make everyone ready. My teammates also show a lot of faith in me and help me tremendously, which gives me confidence to go and do my job."
The Good Guys: Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (6-3-4)
The Toros will need to limit the duds to a minimum if they look to stay towards the top of the Western Conference. Every team has them, but it's important to not dwell on them, and to keep the amount of them down. RGVFC responded well with a strong win Saturday, against a very good club. They currently are tied for third in the conference with LA Galaxy 2. The Toros dropped a spot to #9 on the USL's Top Ten Power rankings and were represented on the USL Team of the week reserves by GK Callum Irving. Before the match Saturday, the club announced they signed former Stanford standout Eric Verso. He brings exciting playmaking abilities to the already supremely talented Toros group.
Jose Escalante and TJ Casner have been training in Houston and are anticipated to see game action with the Dynamo against San Antonio FC for the US Open Cup. Both players are thankful and very excited to not only show their talents on that stage, but also to help the club win and advance in the domestic tournament. Escalante will be unavailable against Sacramento due to his red card suspension.
The Bad Guys: Sacramento Republic FC (6-3-3)
The 4th ranked team in the USL's Power Rankings, Sacramento Republic is coming off two strong wins against the Real Monarchs. They have been stifling on defense, allowing only 7 goals in 12 matches. With help from San Jose Earthquakes loanees Tommy Thompson and Adam Jahn, and leading scorer Cameron Iwasa, the club is also in a groove offensively. They will be looking take three points at home in the first matchup between the sides.
The Dirty Details
6/18 at 10pm CDT
Watch it live HERE.