Michael Salazar hat trick helps RGV FC Toros draw against LA Galaxy II

Rio Grande Valley FC (2-3-3) drew LA Galaxy II (3-3-1), 4-4, on Wednesday night at Dignity Health Sports Park as Michael Salazar earned the first hat trick in Toros franchise history by scoring three goals in a span of 14 minutes.

The Toros had a difficult time breaking through the final third in the first half with LA Galaxy II's defending line keeping RGV from being a threat to their goal. The Toros managed just two shots in the first half, both from Carlos Small.

LA Galaxy II took the lead before halftime when Michael Gallagher sent a ball to Diedie Traore who took on the Toros defenders and guided a left footed shot past Tyler Deric for the first goal of the match in the 39th minute, 0-1. 

RGV FC were a completely different team in the second half as the offensive line created more chances and challenged the Los Dos keeper. In the 48th minute, Jesus Enriquez took a shot from outside the box which was saved by Romero in the bottom right corner. The Toros challenged Romero again in the 56th minute as Enriquez sent a ball to the right side of the box for Wilmer A. Cabrera, who cut in and took a left footed shot from the center of the box that was saved.

Four minutes later, Enriquez sent a pass to Small who he took on Los Dos’ defenders again but had his shot blocked. The Toros again had an opportunity to test Romero in the 67th minute as Brian Iloski took a free kick from outside the box but missed to the right side of the goal.

Los Dos grabbed their second goal of the match in the 74th minute when Iloski sent a pass to Kai Koreniuk following on the break. Koreniuk tapped in to give Los Dos a two goal lead. The Toros struck back in the 77th minute as Michael Salazar received a ball inside the box from Maalique Foster and tapped into the bottom right corner to pull one back for RGV FC, 1-2.

Salazar did not stop there. Two minutes later, defender Robert Coronado sent a pass across the box to a sliding Salazar who equalized the match at two apiece in the 79th minute. The equalizer gave the Toros confidence and momentum as they pushed forward. 

In the 83rd minute, the Toros took advantage of a poor clearance following a corner as Enriquez managed to send the ball across the box to Small who guided the ball over the line to give RVGFC the lead, 3-2.

LA Galaxy II managed to equalize in the 87th minute as Nicholas DePuy's header off a corner found the top corner past Deric, 3-3. 

But the Toros and Salazar did not want to go home with an equalizer. In the 91st minute, Conor Donovan's pass inside the box found Salazar who sent it into the back of the net for his hat trick, 4-3.

LA Galaxy II stuck back with an equalizer of their own in the 96th minute. Adrian Vera took a deflected shot from outside the box which and fell to Koreniuk who slotted home into the bottom right corner, equalizing the match, 4-4.

The Toros ended the night with a total of 12 shots, 10 on target as Salazar took home man of the match honors, scoring with all three of his shots on goal. Small also put in an impressive display tallying six shots and four on target.

On the defensive side, Donovan totaled six clearances and two tackles. Romilio Hernandez had four tackles and Coronado contributed with two tackles, two clearances, three interceptions, and an assist.

RGV FC will continue on their next two games of their three-game road trip. The Toros have moved up on the standings to the 11th spot with 9 points right below Fresno FC, 9 points.

Scoring Summary: RGV FC – Salazar 78’ (Assist by Foster), Salazar 79’ (Assist by Coronado), Small 83’, Salazar 91’; LA2 – Traore 39’ (Assist by Gallagher), Koreniuk 74’ (Assist by Iloski), DePuy 87’ (Assist by Iloski), Koreniuk 96’.

Misconduct Summary: RGV FC – Coronado 22’ YC, Hernandez 66’ YC, Deric 93’ YC.

LA2 – Romero, DePuy, Shultz, Traore (Fiddes 45’; [Williams 86’]), Gallagher, Tchilao, Hernandez (Vera 76’), Koreniuk, Walker, Iloski, Lopez.

Subs: Steeg, Zubak, Hilliard-Arce.   

Stats: Shots: 18, Shots on Goal: 7, Saves: 6, Fouls: 6, Corner Kicks: 5, Offsides: 1. 

RGV FC – Nelson, Coronado, Donovan, Jackson, Adams, Hernandez, Rodriguez (Foster 61’), D. Cabrera (Martinez 68’), A. Cabrera (Salazar 74’), Small, Enriquez.  

Subs: Corti, Garza, Mena, Castellanos.

Stats: Shots: 12, Shots on Goal: 10, Saves: 3, Fouls: 11, Corner Kicks: 3, Offsides: 2.