Third Time's A Charm For SacTown
It took three leads to finally get one to stick for Sacramento Republic FC. In the first meeting between the two Western Conference foes, it was the Republic who got on the board first..and quickly. After a turnover by the Toros, Cameron Iwasa, who earned USL Player of the Week, uncorked one that had no chance of being stopped by Callum Irving. That was less than a minute into the match. RGVFC would level in the 15th minute. Christian Lucatero, making his first start, casually tapped a ball to a charging Memo Rodriguez, who slotted a beautiful left footed shot past the keeper. The clubs went to the half tied at 1 at Bonney Field.
Lead #2 for Sacramento came in the 53rd minute. Off a well struck corner, it was again Iwasa who did the damage. He headed one towards goal that may have slightly deflected on Rodriguez, but whether it did, or didn't, it needed to be stopped by Irving. This one was equalized by Eric Bird, who subbed in for Christian Lucatero. He was able to control a ball in the box, make a touch, then fire an accurate shot while falling down. Unfortunately, that was not the end of the scoring.
The third and final lead came in the 87th minute. Emrah Klimenta put a ball on goal with some pretty good power behind it. Whether that was a shot, or a cross, we may never know. What we do know is, it went in. Out of the three Sacramento goals, only the first strike from Iwasa was a quality enough shot to deserve to find the net. Check out the match highlights below, via the USL.
Ballin' Bulls: Top Three Performing Toros
Dynamo Theory's Man of the Match Ivan Magalhaes: The Brazilian defender was the most consistent player on the backline this week. He made countless last second stops, and distributed the ball from his spot effectively. The rookie has been getting more time as the season progresses, and he is showing he deserves it.
Eric Bird: Coming on as a second half sub, Bird made an impact with his energy, and his feel around the penalty area. He was twice able to control a ball, and while falling, get off a legitimate shot, one equalized the score at 2.
Memo Rodriguez: Memo became the club's top goal scorer with his strike in the 15th minute, his 4th of the season. In just his second pro season, he is establishing himself as someone opponents need to always keep close track of in the offensive zone.
Memo Rodriguez on how he has become a legit goal scorer at the USL level:
"You know, with the help of my teammates giving me good balls, and me finding the right spots to put myself in order to give myself chance to give an assist or score a goal. But I look at film on my spare time to see what I can do better to contribute more to the team and score more goals."
Eric Verso on how he's enjoying his new teammates:
"The guys are great! Everyone gets along really well and we spend quite a bit of time together on and off the field so I feel like part of the group already."
Jose Escalante on how he feels getting back in action tomorrow after a one match red card ban:
*Translated* "Happy, I want to help win three points and be in a better position on the table."
The Good Guys: Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (6-4-4)
The club now finds itself 5th in the Western Conference standings. They did stay level at #9 on the USL's Top 10 Power Rankings. It was a tough loss to swallow against the Republic, but it was also one that showed a lot of class and determination to equalize twice on the road. Even with the two goals, one from Memo and one from Bird, multiple times, the club lacked that scoring touch in the final third. With no Houston Dynamo loanees like Mauro Manotas or Rob Lovejoy, and without star forward Jose Escalante due to a red card suspension, the club was at a disadvantage finishing in the area. It is a big week, with two big home matches. The possibility to vault up the tables with a dual win week has to be something that inspires the young club moving on after the loss.
The Bad Guys: Arizona United SC (4-5-3) Orange County Blues (5-5-3)
Arizona will come to the Valley off two consecutive wins, but before that it was a 5 match winless streak. They have scored the least amount of goals in the Western Conference, with only 11 in 12 games. England native Luke Rooney leads the club in shots and shots on goal, but has only netted one. Chris Cortez is another player to watch on the attack, he returned recently from injury, and has a goal to his name.
Orange County has had a very up and down past three matches. Scoring 5 goals in a win over Seattle, getting blanked in a loss to the aforementioned Arizona United, then getting a 1-0 win last week against Real Monarchs. The Blues have five different players with two goals, including a player from Serbia, Switzerland, Jamaica, Belgium, and the United States. Their usual keeper is Brandon Miller, who was USL Goalkeeper of the Year last year as he led Rochester to a championship win. It will be interesting to see how they juggle their lineup, with a match at San Antonio Thursday, then down to RGV for their Sunday tussle.
The Dirty Details:
Both at UTRGV Stadium
Tonight vs Arizona United at 7:30 CDT
Watch it live HERE
Sunday vs OC Blues at 7:30 CDT
Watch it live HERE