The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros generated one of their best performances of the season but walked away without a positive result in a 1-0 loss at the LA Galaxy II Wednesday at StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium. Ariel Lassiter scored the game’s only goal on the hour mark as RGV FC lost 1-0 for the second straight game (highlights above courtesy LA Galaxy TV).
The Toros (12-7-9; 45 points) are in third place in the USL’s Western Conference and have clinched a playoff berth in their inaugural season. RGV FC is a point back of Colorado Springs and three points behind Sacramento with two games left in the regular season. The Toros will stay in Southern California for Saturday’s game at Orange County Blues FC.
“I think we have to be positive about the game because the players treated it like a playoff game,” RGV FC head coach Wilmer Cabrera told HoustonDynamo.com by phone. “We dominated LA Galaxy II at their home. We took the ball and created more options and [scoring] chances, but we made one mistake and they punished us with the goal. I think we played one of our most solid games [of the season]. Galaxy II lead the Western Conference in scoring (with 48 goals), and we really limited their chances.”
On the game-winning goal, Lassiter received a layoff from Adonis Amaya just beyond the top of the box and rifled a shot from 20 yards into the upper corner for his eighth goal of the season.
After finding timely goals during a five-game win streak, RGV FC has been less efficient in front of goal in the last two games. RGV FC created several chances in the first half, beginning with a decisive run into the box from TJ Casner that led to a good chance for Dzenan Catic, who missed high from eight yards.
Five minutes later, Kevin Garcia delivered a precise cross from the left flank and Catic headed straight to Diop from nine yards.
Midway through the first half, Kyle Murphy’s shot from a tight angle was saved with a dive from Diop.
Then Eric Bird produced a dribbling run into the box in the 31st minute that forced Diop into a save with an outstretched leg.
Murphy continued his high-energy night in the second half, driving forward with a dribbling run on the right side to set up Catic, who struck his shot well but Diop made the save once again.
In the 57th minute, Bird turned his defender in midfield and tried a low shot from 30 yards that was handled by Diop.
Former Dynamo Academy midfielder Christian Lucatero entered the match in the 75th minute and was a creator for the Toros down the stretch, leading several attacking sequences. The 19-year-old served a corner kick that was headed by Ivan Magalhaes, but straight to the Galaxy II goalkeeper.
In the 90th minute, Lucatero dribbled straight at the Galaxy II defense and drew a foul for a free kick 25 yards from goal. Emilio Garcia took the free kick, but missed well over the goal for a disappointing miss.
“During the [recent 10-game unbeaten streak] we didn’t make individual mistakes that cost us goals and we were more sharp in front of the other team’s goal,” Cabrera said. “We haven’t been sharp in front of goal the past two games and that is hurting us.”
Despite the two-game losing streak, Cabrera is confident in his team’s mentality entering Saturday’s game at OC Blues.
“Yes [we remain confident], because we are playing well,” Cabrera said. “Yesterday, we left the field upset because we played well and were better than the opponents. When you have options and opportunities but don’t capitalize, and the players are really upset. But then we need to change that mood and be focused on Saturday and we have to cut the mistakes out.”
Saturday’s game is critical for OC Blues (11-13-4; 37 points), who currently sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. Three teams are within two points or less of the Blues with two games left in the season.
“They have to win, so for them it’s a championship game,” Cabrera said. “It’s going to be a very tough game. It is good for us because it will feel like a playoff game.”
Saturday’s game from Anteater Stadium on the campus of University of California-Irvine will begin at 7:30 p.m. CDT and will stream live here.
LA Galaxy II vs. Rio Grande Valley FC
September 14, 2016 – StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium – Carson, California
LA: Ariel Lassiter 8 (Adonis Amaya) 61
Rio Grande Valley FC: Devin Perales; Kai Greene, Taylor Hunter, Ivan Magalhaes, Kevin Garcia ©; Charlie Ward, Jorginho James (Emilio Garcia 46); Kyle Murphy (Memo Rodriguez 71), Eric Bird, TJ Casner (Christian Lucatero 75); Dzenan Catic (Ruben Luna 63)
*Summary of Dynamo Academy alumni involvement in Saturday’s 0-0 draw:
Memo Rodriguez made his 28th appearance of the season, entering for the final 19 minutes. Rodriguez has six goals (tied for team-high) and five assists (tied for team-high) and is one of two players (Charlie Ward) to appear in all 28 games this season. He’s played a total of 1,789 minutes.
Christian Lucatero had one of his most influential performances in his first professional season, creating several chances and drawing a dangerous free kick in his 15-minute outing. The Dynamo midfielder is spending the season on loan with RGV FC and has three assists in 18 appearances (271 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 in Edinburg, Texas that will resemble Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium.