The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros enjoyed the largest win in their debut season, a 4-0 triumph over Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, the Western Conference leaders, Wednesday night at the Toros practice facility. Dynamo Academy product Memo Rodriguez scored twice in the first half as the Toros kept a clean sheet for the third straight game and handed Whitecaps FC 2 only its third defeat of the season.
The win moves RGV FC (7-5-7; 28 points) into fourth place in the West, four points behind Vancouver (9-3-5; 32 points). The Toros can carry the positive result into a two-week break before they next play Sacramento Republic FC on July 30.
After playing two straight scoreless draws and scoring two total goals in their previous four games, the Toros scored three times in the first half en route to a comfortable win.
“It was a very important win for us,” RGV FC head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “After a couple games we lost or tied, especially the last two where we couldn’t score we were in a drought of results and scoring goals. Going into the last game before the break, we were able to play the top team in the West. Our performance was outstanding, especially the first half.”
Rodriguez opened the scoring after 17 minutes, collecting a layoff from TJ Casner and driving a low strike inside the left post from 20 yards for a 1-0 lead.
Casner scored his first professional goal four minutes later, taking a pass from Dynamo midfielder Rob Lovejoy and finishing for a 2-0 advantage.
Whitecaps FC 2 was reduced to 10 players in the 29th minute as Brett Levis received his second caution in five minutes for a hard tackle.
Rodriguez continued a run of long-range goals throughout this season, receiving a ball from Charlie Ward and trying his luck from 25 yards, leaving Vancouver goalkeeper Sean Melvin no chance as it hit the upper corner for a 3-0 lead five minutes before the break. It was Rodriguez’ team-leading sixth goal of the season and his first two-goal game as a professional.
“He plays as a wide midfielder and he can strike the ball very well with his right or left foot,” Cabrera said. “He is very aggressive – when we have the ball he attacks and becomes a wide attacker (in a 4-2-3-1 formation). I didn’t know Memo [very much] when I took over, and I knew he was one of the youngest players. He has been the most improved player so far throughout the season for us. He started as a sub and he is now a confident starter for us. He has the ability to strike the ball better than most in the USL.”
Emilio Garcia replaced Rodriguez midway through the second half and capped the scoring with his third goal of the season in the 90th minute.
RGV FC has now scored 26 goals, the most by an expansion club in the USL this season (note courtesy Charlie Corr, USLsoccer.com). Casner became the 12th different Toros player to score this campaign.
Dynamo goalkeeper Calle Brown kept a shutout for RGV FC and has allowed just five goals in six starts on loan for the Toros this season.
“We were more aggressive (than in previous home games),” Cabrera said. “We have to be conscious that most of the teams we face here (at home), they drop and defend, and they don’t try to play. Vancouver tried to play even with us and that allowed us to pressure right away while other teams try to put a lot of numbers behind the ball. They tried to play even with us and they are similar to us (in that way on the road).”
Forward Rubén Luna made his RGV FC debut on Wednesday, entering for Eric Bird in the 74th minute. The Mexican-American played three seasons with FC Dallas and most recently played for Inter Playa del Carmen in the Mexican third division.
*Summary of Dynamo Academy alumni involvement in Wednesday’s 4-0 win:
Memo Rodriguez scored two goals to increase his team-leading total to six on the season. The 20-year-old has six goals and two assists in 19 appearances this season (1,296 total minutes).
Christian Lucatero entered in the 61st minute for his 15th appearance of the season. Lucatero, 19, has three assists in 15 appearances his season (248 total minutes).
Charly Flores came off the bench in the 77th minute for his sixth appearance of the season. The 18-year-old has played 37 total minutes this year.
Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (7-5-7; 28 points) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 (9-3-5; 32 points)
RGV FC: Memo Rodriguez 5 (TJ Casner 5) 17
RGV FC: TJ Casner 1 (Rob Lovejoy 1) 21
RGV FC: Memo Rodriguez 6 (Charlie Ward 1) 40
RGV FC: Emilio Garcia (unassisted) 90
Rio Grande Valley FC: Calle Brown; Taylor Hunter, Kevin Garcia ©, Ivan Magalhaes, George Malki (Kai Greene 46); Jorginho James, Charlie Ward; Memo Rodriguez (Emilio Garcia 74), Eric Bird (Ruben Luna 74), Rob Lovejoy (Christian Lucatero 61); TJ Casner (Charly Flores 77)
RGV FC: Rob Lovejoy (caution) 14
VAN: Brett Levis 25
VAN: Brett Levis 29
*Note: The Dynamo and RGV FC have a hybrid affiliation, with the Dynamo in control of all technical aspects of the soccer operation, including the construction of the roster and the coaching staff. Meanwhile, 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.