Following up on last week’s breakdown of the RGVFC goalkeepers, we dive into the defenders today.
(Only players that featured in five or more matches)
Kai Greene: Most likely, Greene was the best athlete on the Toros roster for the second straight year. He’s got great pace, long strides, and big time leaping ability. His delivery into the box needs to improve to take the next step, but he has the intangibles physically. Kai also scored his first professional goal this year.
Victor Garza: An RGV native, Garza brought some technical ability to the fullback spot. The one time Tigres man also saw some time on the wing for Junior Gonzalez this year.
Robbie Sagel: The hulking centreback fell out of favor quickly in his first season for RGVFC. He was a central piece to some woeful performances by the Toros defense, often getting out of position and lacking the speed to erase those mistakes. Sagel is strong in the air, but struggled with the pace of the USL game.
Ivan Magalhaes: A solid sophomore season for the Houston Dynamo 2016 Superdraft selection. Magalhaes was a constant presence on the backline and improved on his distribution and poise from 2016. He did have a couple major mishaps, including a red card, but he showed a big jump from his rookie campaign. Ivan scored two goals this season, including a dramatic equalizer that you can watch below.
Justin Bilyeu: Signed midseason after leaving the New York Red Bulls organization, who picked him in the first round of the 2016 Superdraft. He immediately showcased his class and finished up the season with eight assists. Bilyeu has solid pace for an outside back, also bringing great vision and leadership.
Leo Ayala: After barely featuring in 2016, Ayala was a quality player in limited action this season.
Kevin Garcia (Dynamo): The 2016 captain of RGVFC, Garcia had an up and down time in his 2017 appearances. Sometimes, he offered a calming, familiar voice on the backline. Other times, he wasn’t able to replicate his form from last year, including a tough own goal against Swope Park.
Taylor Hunter (Dynamo): He played last season with the Toros, then signed with Houston in the offseason. Hunter spent the majority of 2017 down in the Valley and his play wasn’t as steady as it was last year.
Omar Ontiveros: He showcased his skills late in the season and maybe should have earned time earlier in the campaign. He is confident and skilled going forward.
The best prospects for next season in Houston, outside of the already signed Hunter and Garcia, would be Magalhaes, Bilyeu, and Greene. All three players improved in their second professional season and could provide depth at the next level. Greene will need to continue improving his delivery and Magalhaes needs to eliminate the rare mental lapses that hurt his consistency. Bilyeu impressed in his time with the Toros and his passing ability is intriguing. Alongside Eric Bird, Bilyeu was invited up to the first team for their Charities Cup match this fall.
If there’s movement on the backline, I’d love to see more of Garza and Ontiveros. Both players showed class on the ball and can help build into the attack.