The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros produced the largest win in the club’s inaugural season, a 6-0 triumph over Seattle Sounders FC 2 on Saturday, to clinch an undefeated five-game homestand with a sixth consecutive shutout.
The Toros contrasted three scoreless draws with two emphatic wins during the home stretch, eclipsing the previous largest win this season—4-0 over Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on July 13—by two goals at Toro Stadium on Saturday. RGV FC outscored its opponents 10-0 during the homestand.
“We knew we needed to break the dam,” RGV FC head coach Wilmer Cabrera told HoustonDynamo.com by phone after his team played to a pair of scoreless draws the previous two games. “We had to wait a few more games, the break [17-day layoff following a 4-0 win on July 13] definitely affected our rhythm, but it’s a part of the schedule and we can’t make excuses.”
Since starting the home schedule with a loss and draw, RGV FC has outscored opponents 23-4 in its last 10 home games (5-1-4).
“Everyone [around the league] respects us, especially the way we play,” Cabrera said. “Every team that comes to South Texas cannot play the same way they play in other places. Most teams park the bus (defensively), not because they want to, because they can’t find answers to take the ball away from us.”
Emilio Garcia scored twice late in the first half, beginning with a beautiful free kick goal he curled into the upper corner from 25 yards.
Moments later, Colombian midfielder Yair Arboleda, on loan from the Houston Dynamo, offered a glimpse of his potential, collecting a pass just past midfield, leaving a defender in his wake with a clever cutback, and then feeding Garcia at the top of the box for a clean turn and low finish for a 2-0 lead.
It was Garcia’s fifth goal of the season, one shy of Memo Rodriguez for the team lead.
“Emilio (Garcia) is a very experienced player with a good profile,” Cabrera said. “He played for Pachuca, a very good club in Mexico, but is not well known (here). He’s been outstanding and has always been a part of the team and always active within the starting 11. He can play attacking midfield, he can play wide midfield and he can play defensive midfield.”
Arboleda set up Garcia’s second goal for his first assist in his second game with RGV FC after he joined the Dynamo on loan from Independiente Santa Fe on July 29.
“It’s been very refreshing and a very big surprise for everyone [to have Yair with RGV FC],” Cabrera said. “In the 45 minutes and the 70 minutes he played for us the last two games, he was a factor, and with Rob Lovejoy on the other side, he’s been outstanding. I’ve told him to be creative in the attacking half. We tell him: ‘Don’t restrain yourself, you need to go after the defenders. Know that we support you.’
“It is unique to find a player with that technique and attacking skillset. The key is to find players that can adapt to this market. He is young, talented, quick and different. I expect him to make a quick transition and adapt himself to MLS, and he can bring a lot of excitement offensively.”
The Toros kept pushing to start the second half as Arboleda forced a desperate clearance before the ball was served to the back post, where Dynamo loanee Rob Lovejoy headed across goal and Ruben Luna nodded into an empty net for his first Toros goal and a 3-0 lead.
RGV FC made it four in the 82nd minute as Rodriguez and Lovejoy worked a give-and-go at the top of the box and Rodriguez squared it for Eric Bird, who used a left-footed finish into the bottom corner for his fourth goal of the season.
The Toros added two more goals in stoppage time. Bird received a thrown in and crossed for Kyle Murphy, who was unmarked at the back post and used his chest to steer the ball into the empty net for his third tally of the campaign.
Seconds later, Rodriguez capped a long run with a pass to Dzenan Catic at the top of the box, and the Bosnian turned and finished for the sixth goal of the night, his second of the year.
Goalkeeper Callum Irving made four saves for his fifth consecutive shutout, and sixth overall. The Canadian has allowed seven goals in 10 games in his first professional season.
“I like the fact that the team is very solid in the back,” Cabrera said. “We don’t allow goals, and we have one of the highest possession numbers in the league. Adding goals [on the attacking end] helps the team gain confidence. It’s something we’ve tried to explain to the guys: We work defensively as a unit, not individually. We want to implement teamwork offensively and defensively, and these players are getting that now.”
RGV FC (8-5-9; 33 points) is in sixth place in the Western Conference of the USL, four points back of three first place teams, and can move into a tie for fourth place with a win on Thursday at Tulsa Roughnecks FC (5-14-3; 18 points).
“It will be a tough game,” Cabrera said. “For them [given their place in the standings], this is a final. They beat us the first game of the season and then they held us scoreless here in the Valley. We have had difficulties scoring on them. It will be a tough game.”
Thursday’s match at Tulsa will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CDT and will be streamed live here.
Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (8-5-9; 33 points) vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2 (7-10-6; 27 points)
August 13, 2016 – Toros Stadium, Edinburg, Texas
RGV FC: Emilio Garcia 4 (unassisted) 44
RGV FC: Emilio Garcia 5 (Yair Arboleda 1) 45+
RGV FC: Ruben Luna 1 (Rob Lovejoy 2) 48
RGV FC: Eric Bird 4 (Memo Rodriguez 3) 82
RGV FC: Kyle Murphy 3 (Eric Bird 1) 90+
RGV FC: Dzenan Catic 2 (Memo Rodriguez 4) 90+
Rio Grande Valley FC: Callum Irving; Taylor Hunter, Kevin Garcia ©, Ivan Magalhaes, George Malki; Jorginho James (Eric Bird 69), Charlie Ward; Yair Arboleda* (Memo Rodriguez 68), Emilio Garcia (Kyle Murphy 82), Rob Lovejoy* (TJ Casner 74); Ruben Luna (Dzenan Catic 65)
*On loan from Houston Dynamo
*Summary of Dynamo Academy alumni involvement in Saturday’s 0-0 draw:
Memo Rodriguez entered for the final 22 minutes and provided two assists. The 20-year-old has six goals (team-high) and four assists (second on team) in 22 appearances this season (1,470 total minutes).
*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.