The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros capped a successful four-game road trip with a 1-0 win at Real Monarchs SLC Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium. Honduran midfielder Jose Escalante scored his first RGV goal and the Toros kept their second clean sheet of the new season.
The Toros (2-1-1, 7 points) gained seven points from a difficult four-game road trip in their debut season. They play their first-ever home game next Saturday against LA Galaxy II at the UTRGV Soccer and Track Complex while construction continues on Toros Stadium.
“The team was very solid in all areas,” RGV FC head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “We fixed a lot of movements and coordination defensively and that helped us keep the clean sheet, which is important for them. We continued to pass the ball and we created chances against a very good team. It was a tactical game and a smart game played by both teams. We should have put the game away (sooner), but sometimes when you win 1-0 it shows how good your concentration is.”
RGV’s winning goal was well-deserved after a quality buildup in the 24th minute. The Toros slowly worked the ball from the right side of the field to the left, where defender Kai Greene played a forward ball to Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas. The Colombian used a clever back heel to drop the ball back to TJ Casner, who floated a first-touch pass behind the defense. Escalante ran onto the ball at the top of the box and used a good first touch to set up a calm finish for the winning goal.
Escalante, 20, played at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup last summer and is in his first season in the Dynamo organization, on loan to the Toros from Olimpia of Honduras. Escalante will train with the Dynamo first team this week.
“Jose is improving every day with his movements and learning how to run the field better in a tactical aspect. He has the talent to be one of the best players in this league.”
Manotas, making his RGV FC debut on loan from the Dynamo, nearly doubled the lead in the 41st minute, streaking in behind the defense, but Monarchs goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez forced him away from goal and Manotas tripped, perhaps after contact from the goalkeeper but the referee let play continue.
"I am very pleased with Mauro as he came with a good attitude, a good mentality and he worked very hard throughout the game," Cabrera said. "He was very motivated, he was active and he enjoyed the time with the team.”
Dynamo goalkeeper Calle Brown, also on loan to RGV, earned a shutout in his professional debut. The University of Virginia product dove to his left in the 42nd minute to deny Andrew Brody from 18 yards.
The Toros had opportunities to stretch the lead in the second half, including the 58th minute when Escalante received the ball at midfield and produced a sublime dribbling display, darting past several defenders and forcing Fernandez to commit before unselfishly passing to Casner in front of goal, but he missed wide with a great chance from four yards.
Manotas created the next chance, displaying some impressive hold up play before playing a perfect pass in the path of Memo Rodriguez. The Dynamo Academy product struck it well from 15 yards, forcing a palm save from Fernandez.
Three Dynamo players started the match for RGV FC: Manotas, Brown and defender Sebastien Ibeagha, who made his third straight start for the Toros.
“Sebastien and Kevin were very solid to keep the clean sheet," Cabrera said. "TJ Casner played 75 minutes with a good intensity and mentality. He had an assist and could have scored.
“At the beginning of the season I was asked if it’s good to have four road trips to start the season and I said we need to see after the four road games. At this point it was good for us. It helped us build the team and build consistency and create a good team environment. Now we feel solid to perform on the road and at home."
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.
Real Monarchs SLC (2-2-1, 7 points) vs. Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (2-1-1, 7 points)
April 23, 2016 - Rio Tinto Stadium - Sandy Utah
RGV FC: Jose Escalante 1 (TJ Casner 1) 25
Rio Grande Valley FC: Calle Brown*; George Malki, Sebastien Ibeagha*, Kevin Garcia, Kai Greene; Charlie Ward, Jorginho James, TJ Casner (Dzenan Catic 75); Emilio Garcia (Memo Rodriguez 72), Mauro Manotas* (Kyle Murphy 83), Jose Escalante (Christian Lucatero 87)
*On loan from Houston Dynamo