Rio Grande Valley FC take tough-luck 2-0 loss at Tulsa in USL debut

The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros produced an impressive attacking display in their inaugural match, but were undone by tough luck, an in-form opposing goalkeeper and a sensational goal in a 2-0 defeat to Tulsa Roughnecks FC Saturday at ONEOK Field.  

RGV FC, the hybrid affiliate of the Houston Dynamo, tallied 22 shots – 12 on goal – and hit the goal frame three times, including twice in the game’s first ten minutes. First, Dynamo Academy product Memo Rodriguez struck the crossbar before forward Dzenan Catic followed suit from 25 yards soon after.

The Toros continued to control the game when misfortune struck again in the 32nd minute. Tulsa midfielder David Abidor took a free kick that took a huge deflection off Catic, leaving Toros goalkeeper Devin Perales no chance as the Roughnecks took a 1-0 lead.

“They finished their two chances,” Toros head coach Wilmer Cabrera said “On the goal in the first half, there was confusion after a collision, and we weren’t sharp with the second ball.”

Tulsa goalkeeper Alex Mangels produced a wonderful performance in his professional debut, capping off the first half with two saves in the final minute.

Midfielder Carlos Martinez also made a grand first impression in his Roughnecks debut, doubling the lead in the first ten seconds of the second half. He settled the ball with his chest 23 yards from goal, and after a bounce, struck with the outside of his right foot and the shot swerved dramatically into the far upper corner.

Rodriguez was denied by the goal frame for the second time when his free kick from 25 yards hit high off the post in the 88th minute. Rodriguez led all players with eight shots, and four shots on goal.

“Memo had a good game, he created a lot of chances,” Cabrera said. “Catic was dangerous and had chances to score. Overall, Charlie Ward had a good game, his first 90 minutes with the team. We lacked concentration on three of four balls, and we have to learn in a professional environment you have to be more clinical in your details.

Eric Bird added three shots on goal while Catic produced three shots and TJ Casner, Bradley Bourgeois and Taylor Hunter tallied two each.

So it went for the Toros in the first game in club history: Three shots off the woodwork, a world class goal from the opponent, a deflected own goal, and the opposing goalkeeper making 12 saves in his professional debut.

“The team was very good, they passed the ball well, but we lacked concentration on set pieces and three of four balls,” Cabrera said. “We have to learn in a professional environment that you have to be more clinical in your details. Seven seconds into the second half, they score the second goal. They need to gain more experience and keep concentration if they want to be successful.”

Tulsa head coach David Irving was complimentary to RGV FC following the game.

“They played well, so full credit to them," Irving told his club website. "A first-year team that were organized and made it difficult for us."

Next up, the Toros continue a four-game road trip to start the season at Portland Timbers 2 on Saturday, April 9. All RGV FC matches will be streamed live on the USL Youtube channel.

Rio Grade Valley FC Toros: Devin Perales; Bradley Bourgeois (Christian Lucatero 90), Kevin Garcia ©, Taylor Hunter, Kai Greene; Charlie Ward, Jorghino James (Kyle Murphy 73), Eric Bird; Memo Rodriguez, Dzenan Catic (Charly Flores 84), TJ Casner (George Malki 66)