The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros continue a four-game road trip to open their debut season in USL on Friday at the University of Portland's Merlo Field against Portland Timbers 2. The two-city Pacific Northwest swing continues Tuesday in Tukwila, Washington against Seattle Sounders 2. Tonight’s Toros match will begin at 9 p.m. CT, and can be seen live here.
Three Dynamo players join the Toros for the road trip – Midfielder Collen Warner and defenders Sebastien Ibeagha and Bradley Bourgeois. Warner is trying to gain fitness after a bi-lateral hamstring strain kept him out of the first four Dynamo games and can reminisce his college days after starring at the University of Portland. Ibeagha and Bourgeois will have the chance to stay sharp within two competitive games in a road environment.
“It’s an outstanding opportunity,” Dynamo general manager Matt Jordan said. “It’s the reason we worked so hard on this initiative because it’s going to be critical to our success from man 1-28 on our roster. It will keep guys prepared for when their number is called upon.”
RGV FC will have three days of rest and travel between Friday’s game in Portland and Tuesday's game in suburban Seattle. The space between games is a positive change after select USL road trips in previous years included games on consecutive days in different cities, similar to the NBA.
“I remember as a player with the Montreal Impact we’d do our Northwest road trip from Vancouver to Seattle to Portland,” Jordan said. “Back in those days it was three games in five days. It is important for our young players to understand it’s not easy and you have to face adversity to be successful.
“The scheduling had improved a lot (in the USL), and the relationship between the USL and MLS is becoming very important in North America. You will see, over the course of the next three to five years it will be a game-changer.”
The Toros fell to the Tulsa Roughnecks in their first-ever USL match on March 26. Head coach Wilmer Cabrera was pleased with the effort of his young squad, including 22 shots and hitting the goal frame three times, but disappointed with the lack of concentration in the critical moments.
“The team was very good, they passed the ball well, but we lacked concentration on set pieces and three of four balls,” Cabrera told HoustonDynamo.com a day after the loss. “We have to learn in a professional environment that you have to be more clinical in your details.”
RGV FC is the hybrid affiliate of the Dynamo, who control all technical aspects of the soccer operation while the McAllen, Texas based Rio Grande Valley Vipers run the business operations, including the current construction of a 9,400 seat soccer stadium that will resemble Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium. The Toros will play their first four games on the road before their first home game April 30 against LA Galaxy II.