Two Matches, Zero Wins
Last week's version of midweek soccer was far more watchable than the previous edition, the 4-0 drubbing by Swope Park. But unfortunately, the matchup with Arizona United did not end with a Toros' win either. The match saw Eric Bird, RGVFC's recent super sub, find the net early, this time as a starter. He has worked back from a couple injuries, and is really coming into form as of late. In the second half, the Toros nearly extended their lead as a Jose to Jose connection (Escalante to Rodriguez) resulted in a lovely strike by Memo, but off the post. Not only did they not double their lead, Arizona launched an immediate counter attack, and equalized on a shot by Tyler Blackwood. Blackwood was the most aggressive attacker all night for Arizona United, but the Toros were the more offensive team overall. They finished with 7 shots on goal compared to only 3 from Arizona.
Sunday's match surely left a bad taste in the Toros' players mouths. In a match they were the clear aggressor, they got on the board first. Kyle Murphy looked to be taken down in the area, but there was no call. As the ball keeper tried to control the loose ball, it bounced right in front of the goal, where Murphy calmed knocked it home for the first half lead. As the great Rasheed Wallace used to say, "Ball don't lie." Unfortunately, the Blues would level before the break. On a quick counter attack, Ivan Magalhaes found himself step for step with OC's Trevin Caeser, who appeared to initiate contact before falling in the penalty area. The ref awarded the PK, and Didier Crettenand slotted it in. The draw would've been a letdown for sure, it's too bad they couldn't even hold on to that. Early in stoppage time, Magalhaes whiffed on a clear attempt on the edge of the box, and proceeded to take down the Blues player that was in line to possess the ball. Another penalty was awarded, and a red card to Ivan. Crettenand put this one in the back of the net as well, and OC stole all three points from the Toros.
Ballin' Bulls: Last Week's Top Three Toros
Dynamo Theory's Man of the Week Callum Irving: Now the primary goalkeeper for the Toros, Irving made some crucial saves to keep both matches close last week. He was especially great against OC Blues, but unfortunately couldn't stop either PK.
Jose Escalante: After serving a one game red card ban, Escalante was back in action for both Toros' matches last week. The offense just looks more dangerous with the Honduran in the lineup.
Kyle Murphy: The former Clemson forward had his most offensively aggressive match of the season against Orange County. He totaled four shots, three on goal in the match, including the only score for RGVFC.
Kevin Garcia on how frustrating a loss like Sunday is:
"It's very frustrating, especially when you outperform the other team. We need to finish teams off in first half, and not give them any hope of a tie or fluke play to decide it in the 90 minute. We have to be more efficient in front of net, because teams are getting 1 or 2 chances a game, and they are able to capitalize on those chances. If we can be more consistent and not have mental lapses, we will take 3 points on the day against anyone."
Kyle Murphy explains how important Jose Escalante is to the offense:
"He is a big piece to our attack. He is a very dynamic player, and is great to work with. We have a lot of different personalities in our attack, which makes it difficult for teams to deal with."
Charlie Ward on how the Toros can get back to their winning ways:
"I think the errors we are making, we need to cut out. Other than that in the last 2 games, we could be sitting here talking about the 4 points we have and us being 2nd in the table. So I think those little mistakes we are making have cost us being where we believe as a team, we should be in the league, because we are not playing bad by any means. We played against a well organized side on the weekend, and we looked to be walking away from the game with a point, and then we go again this weekend. But soccer is crazy that's why we have to be concentrated for not just bits of the game,it's until the whistle blows for full time,as that showed on the weekend with the last kick of the game."
The Good Guys: Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (6-5-5)
Kevin Garcia's quote echoed my exact thoughts. This is a very talented, diverse team. While there are games that you get badly outplayed, the LA Galaxy 2 and Swope Park losses come to mind, the Toros have lost, or settled for draws due to momentary lapses. It will be important, as the season goes along, to eliminate these errors, whether that's allowing a counter attack goal like the Arizona match, or mistakes in judgement awarding two penalty kicks to Orange County. Last week was a microcosm of the Toros being the better team in both matches, but allowing themselves to not close out the result.
Jose Escalante and Memo Rodriguez have been great striking the ball from distance, but it will take more crafty finishes around the goal like Eric Bird's or Kyle Murphy's, to continue pushing the team towards the top of the table. The goalkeeping, as a rule, has been strong, and it will be important for Callum Irving, or whoever is in net, to continue to make the saves they should and keep the club in the ballgame.
Ivan Magalhaes will be out on a red card suspension. It doesn't appear at this time that the Houston Dynamo will be bringing up any Toros' regulars for their Open Cup match against Sporting Kansas City tonight.
The Bad Guys: OKC Energy FC (5-2-5)
The clubs met in the middle of June, with RGVFC controlling a 3-0 victory at home. Since then, the Energy has defeated Swope Park 3-1, and got a 1-1 draw last week at home against Western Conference leading Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. OKC has only allowed 12 goals on the season, and have not won a match that they allowed more than one goal. It will be important for RGVFC to test Cody Laurendi early, and try to get an early goal, forcing OKC to open up their offense a bit. They have not lost at home since their season opener March 26th.
The Dirty Details:
7/2 at 7:30 CDT at Taft Stadium
Watch it live HERE.