Rio Grande Valley FC earn first-ever win, 2-0 at Portland Timbers 2

The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros recorded the first win in club history, a 2-0 road triumph over Portland Timbers 2 on Friday night at Merlo Field. Dynamo defender Bradley Bourgeois scored his first professional goal and forward Dzenan Catic added a penalty goal as RGV FC turned a 2-0 halftime lead into a road win.

Three Dynamo players on loan to the Toros were in the starting lineup: Midfielder Collen Warner and defender Sebastien Ibeagha, along with Bourgeois, who made his second consecutive start.

“We were solid and more composed (than in the March 26 season opener) and we created scoring chances and were solid defensively,” RGV FC head coach Wilmer Cabrera told HoustonDynamo.com by phone. “We were a little bit off in terms of timing (after not playing for two weeks). We needed to score and the fact that we kept a clean sheet in the back is motivating and a payoff for the players’ hard work.” 

RGV FC threated in the 15th minute as Warner dropped a clever ball behind the Portland defense and forward Jose Escalante forced Portland goalkeeper Wade Hamilton into a desperate clearance. The ball fell to Catic, who turned and fired from 23 yards but his shot was cleared off the line by T2 defender Taylor Peay.

“Collen was very good,” Cabrera said. “He gave confidence to the players and showed his level and experience on the field, working hard, winning balls in the midfield. He distributed the ball well and he did a good job for 45 minutes to help the rest of the players continue in the second half.”

Escalante stayed confident two minutes later, collecting a poor clearance and driving a wicked shot from 30 yards that was bound for the far post before Hamilton produced a diving save. Catic had another chance with a rebound from six yards, but Hamilton parried it wide.

The Toros were rewarded for their pressure on the resulting corner kick. Dynamo Academy product Memo Rodriguez delivered a pinpoint corner kick to a spot nine yards from goal at the near post and Bourgeois, also a Dynamo Academy alumnus, drove a firm header into the bottom corner for the first goal in Toros history.

“Bradley is very athletic and strong and it was an important goal for him,” Cabrera said. “Portland had very fast players up front and he worked hard and had a chance to go forward and it was a good game for him.”

Escalante continued his bright display on the half-hour mark, dribbling past two defenders on the left edge of the box and drawing a foul from Portland defender Brent Richards for a penalty kick. Catic took the penalty and used a cool finish to the bottom left corner for his first goal this season.

Cabrera praised the performance of Escalante, who joined RGV FC on loan from Olimpia of Honduras. The 20-year-old played at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup last summer.

“It was his first game since last November, so it was a long five months waiting,” said Cabrera. “He was excited and was very important for us because he created options and was very dangerous. We haven’t seen him with his full fitness, but once he gets a rhythm he is going to be one of the top players in this league, in my opinion.”

T2 came close in the 44th minute as forward Villyan Bijey struck from 23 yards and his shot was palmed over the crossbar by RGV goalkeeper Devin Perales.

Perales was up to the task again in the 64th minute, coming off his line was and using his legs to deny T2 forward Kharlton Belmar, who was in clear on goal.

The tandem of Escalante and Catic combined again in the 65th minute as the Honduran slid a nifty through ball for the latter, who was denied once again by the slide of Hamilton.

Following the club’s first win, Cabrera was pleased with his club’s resilience after they landed in Portland just before 2 a.m. the night before the game. Moreover, he lauded his squad’s ability to learn from its mistakes in the opening day loss at Tulsa.

“I am really pleased because the guys showed they are learning from their mistakes and and concentrating for 90 minutes. They’re learning and that’s rewarding. In the back, Kevin Garcia and Sebastien Ibeagha played together for the first time and they were solid. Devin Perales had two big important moments and he came through and that will build more confidence for him.”

The Toros take a three-hour bus trip to Seattle on Saturday morning and will have a recovery practice later in the day. The team will get together Sunday afternoon to watch the Dynamo host the Sounders on ESPN, a prelude to their own match against Sounders 2 on Tuesday evening.

The two-city Pacific Northwest swing continues Tuesday in Tukwila, Washington against Seattle Sounders 2 (9 p.m. CT kickoff, Watch Here).

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.

Portland Timbers 2 (0-3-0, 0 points) vs. Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (1-1-0, 3 points)
April 8, 2016 – Merlo Field – Portland, Oregon

Goals by Half              1     2     F
Portland Timbers 2     0     0     0
RGV FC Toros            2     0     2

Scoring Summary:

RGV FC: Bradley Bourgeois 1 (Memo Rodriguez 1) 18
RGV FC: Dzenan Catic (penalty kick)31

RGV FC: Devin Perales; Bradley Bourgeois* (Kai Greene 69), Kevin Garcia, Sebastien Ibeagha*, George Malki (Ivan Magalhaes 78); Charlie Ward, Eric Bird (T.J. Casner 32), Collen Warner* © (Jorginho James 46); Memo Rodriguez, Dzenan Catic, Jose Escalante (Emilio Garcia 73)

*On loan from Houston Dynamo

Substitutes Not Used: Arturo Sanchez, Charly Flores

TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Jose Escalante 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Dzenan Catic 3); FOULS: 12 (Jose Escalante, Charlie Ward 2); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 2 (Devin Perales)

PORTLAND: GK Hamilton, D Richards, D Peay ©, D Gallagher, D Farfan (Meva, 86), M Besler, M Casiple (Duarte, 60), M Lewis, F Arboleda (Polk, 62), F Bijev (Belmar, 46), F Brett

Substitutes Not Used: GK McIntosh, D Manning, F Lowe

TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Richards, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Two players tied, 1); FOULS: 12 (Three players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 4 ; SAVES: 3

Misconduct Summary:

RGV: James (Caution) 53
POR: Belmar (Caution)90

Referee: Chipalo Street
Referee’s assistants: Bennett Savage, Chad Stewart
Fourth official: Andrew Marihart
Attendance: 1,528

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.