A Tale of Two Halves...But Neither With A Toros’ Goal
If you tuned into the first half of the RGVFC vs. San Antonio FC match this past weekend, you may have been confused. A roster loaded with players from last season’s 2nd place in the Western Conference, possession dominant team, could not hold onto the ball.
While first match rust is expected, it was surprisingly visible. SAFC shadowed every move of Charlie Ward, the conductor of the Toros’ attack. And with Ward largely unavailable, the offense was nearly non existent.
On the other end, there were a few too many runs early, that were not cut off abruptly. Letting the ball bounce a long distance to the keeper’s front door, without hedging off the player effectively, or just giving too much room on a run, allowed San Antonio to score early. It was a run down the left flank, an easy pass to the middle not far away from the goal, and a quality strike by Billy Forbes. Simple as that for SAFC.
The Toros best chance of the first half came on a great defensive play by Kyle Murphy, who won the ball, and touched it to Ruben Luna, who attacked the goal. Then, as the goalkeeper committed to him, dished it back to a wide open Murphy in front of the net who missed rolled it way offline. Murphy also had a close call in the second half, when his volley clanged off the post.
Speaking of the second half, a closer version to the 2016 Toros appeared. They possessed the ball better, and created numerous more chances. Despite the improved play, the ball was not meant to go in for the home side, debuting H-E-B Park in USL play.
There was also a glaring missed penalty call in the second 45’, as Ruben Luna ran in on goal, and was undercut by GK Matt Cardone, and simply received a corner. The Toros’ loss is not on the officiating, but that was as bad a no-call as you’ll see this season.
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Dynamo Theory’s Man of the Match, Eric Bird: While the rest of the club looked flat at times, Bird willed his men forward. He flew around the pitch, winning balls in the midfield, and creating chances.
Ruben Luna: He earned a penalty the hard way, by any reasonable standard, when he was flipped by the opposing GK. He also should have had two assists, one on the howler by Murphy, the other on a header towards the middle after Charlie Ward’s delivery into the box, which ended in Murphy’s shot off the post.
Christian Lucatero/TJ Casner/Todd Wharton: The trio of subs made instant impacts upon entering the match. Casner almost headed in the equalizer. Lucatero delivered some quality corner kicks, and Wharton almost set up Bird for a goal.
Charlie Ward on the biggest takeaway from match #1: “That we keep growing when we lose and win, this season is a long time. We lost first game last season, and we nearly won the league. This is a rollercoaster of a season, there will be ups and downs, It's how we take winning and losing, sometimes teams get too high when they win and too down when they loose, we have to stay grounded, and keep working and learning as much as we can off new coach Junior Gonzalez.”
TJ Casner explains what playing at H-E-B Park feels like: “It feels very professional. The stadium looks fantastic and the fans have received us very well. It's really exciting to have everything finally come together.”
The Good Guys: Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (0-1-0)
It wasn’t an ideal start to the USL season for RGV, but it was only the first match, and it improved in the second half. My thought before the game was that I preferred TJ Casner on the wing, instead of Kyle Murphy. The missed goals were unlucky, but he is just not a natural wing player. The club had four loanees down from the Houston Dynamo: former Toros’ captain Kevin Garcia, 2016 members of the Toros’ Taylor Hunter and Jose Escalante, and goalkeeper Calle Brown.
Expect this week, for RGV to move Charlie Ward around a little bit more, to free him up. If they can’t, they need to take advantage of the focus on Ward, and expose other areas of the defense.
The Bad Guys: Tulsa Roughnecks FC (1-0-1)
The Roughnecks were able to again start this season with a win, after beating RGV in the season opener last year in Oklahoma. This time, they handled the Colorado Switchbacks 4-1. Ian Svantesson netted a brace for the home side. Here are the match highlights below:
Last year, following that first match win, Tulsa had a forgettable season, finishing dead last in the league, with only fives win and a -39 goal differential. David Vaudreuil, a seven year MLS veteran, took over as the head coach, and fans are excited about this year’s improved side.
The Dirty Details:
4/1 vs. Tulsa Roughnecks FC
ONEOK Field 7pm CDT.
Watch it live HERE.