All Toros, No Bull: 2-0 RGVFC set for the first South Texas Derby of 2021

The new-look RGVFC Toros have won both of their matches to start the 2021 season as they defeated Landon Donovan’s San Diego Loyal SC at H-E-B Park, 1-0, last Thursday. Next up, they host San Antonio FC on Sunday in the first South Texas Derby of 2021.

RGVFC Toros (2-0-0)

It’s a long season in the USL Championship, but the early returns are extremely positive for Toros 2.0. After picking up a 1-0 win in their season-opener vs. New Mexico United, Vicente Sanchez scored a header in the final minutes of regular time to make it two wins in two matches for Wilmer Cabrera’s side. RGVFC climbed up 13 places to #10 on Nicholas Murray of USL HQ’s Power Rankings after last week’s win and one can imagine they will rise up even higher this week.

The only change to the lineup from the opening week was Camden Riley moving to the bench as Liga MX veteran Erik Pimentel stepped into the starting group in central defense. That slid Carter Manley out to right-back, his natural position. To start the second half, we likely saw a glimpse of the first-choice starting XI as Adrian Diz Pe came on for James Murphy. Diz Pe joined Pimentel at center-back and Juan David Cabezas moved into his typical position in the midfield.

RGVFC did well to keep the pressure on San Diego’s backline and try to dictate the tempo. Statistically, there wasn’t much between the clubs. RGVFC held the edge in shots 11-7, but the efforts on goal were even at three. Possession was 51%-49% in favor of San Diego as both clubs had similar numbers of passes and passing accuracy.

With a big boost from Tyler Deric, the Toros have already matched their 2020 total for clean sheets with two after just two matches. The veteran’s shot-stopping ability and leadership at the backend will be crucial for the club this season. Deric earned a place on the USL Team of the Week while Rodrigo Lopez made the bench.

Top Toros

Tyler Deric: The veteran goalkeeper only finished with three saves on the night, but they were big stops, including a one-handed save in the second half that’s a Save of the Week nominee, and he picked up clean sheet #2 already this season.

Christian Sorto: Just as he did in the opener, Sorto provided a spark on the wing for RGV. He assisted on Sanchez’s goal, one of his three chances created.

Vicente Sanchez: Known as a super-sub during his season with the Houston Dynamo, Sanchez came off the bench to win the match for the Toros. He got some space in the box and buried a powerful header, a USL Championship Goal of the Week nominee. The 41-year-old is now the oldest goalscorer in league history, taking the honor from Chelsea legend and former Phoenix Rising FC striker, Didier Drogba.

San Antonio FC (1-0-1)

After a big 3-0 win vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to start their season, last weekend marked the home opener for SAFC. They scored twice in the first half vs. Real Monarchs SLC with Nathan picking up a straight red card between the goals. Down to ten men, San Antonio conceded twice within the first ten minutes of the second half and couldn’t find a winner, despite Monarchs SLC also losing a player to a red card in the 75th minute.¬†They were out-shot and out-possessed in the 2-2 draw. Now, they travel on the road to face their rival in a Sunday night showdown.

Players to Watch

Santiago Patino: He began his San Antonio career with a bang as he scored a hat trick in their season-opening victory vs. Colorado Springs.

Cam Lindley: The 23-year-old midfielder has an assist, four key passes, and five interceptions.

Marcus Epps: Playing for his fifth club in the USL, the winger scored vs. Real Monarchs SLC and has created four chances through two matches. He was on the USL Team of the Week for his performance vs. Real Monarchs.

Key Matchup

Central Midfield

With Adrian Diz Pe likely moving into a starting role in central defense, Wilmer Cabrera could slide JDC up to his natural position in the midfield, pairing him with fellow veteran Rodrigo Lopez. That is a very experienced duo, capable of controlling the match with their passing and defensive instincts. For San Antonio FC, they will need their midfield, with players like Lindley and Emil Cuello, to set the tempo and get an edge in the middle of the park. SAFC have been on the short end of possession in both of their matches to start the season, a 3-0 win and a 2-2 draw, but they could struggle if they allow RGVFC to completely dictate the pace of the match by holding onto the ball.

The Deets

Sunday, 5/16, 7:30 PM Central

San Antonio FC at RGVFC

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.