RGVFC are now unbeaten in their last three matches.
On Saturday, RGVFC Toros picked up three crucial points and secured a major Copa Tejas win as they topped El Paso Locomotive FC at H-E-B Park. Eric Bird provided the lone goal in the 1-0 victory.
RGVFC Toros (7-11-7)
I think it’s fair to say RGVFC have gotten the hang of this counter-attacking play style. Holding only 36% of possession, they finished with 17 shots and put four on target. For that kind of ratio, there needs to be an entire team effort. The central midfielders have to win the ball back and play it quickly to the wings or make the run forward themselves. The backline has to be compact defensively and know where the next pass needs to go rather than just booting the ball away. Lastly, the forwards need to take advantage of their chances on the break. When they get a counter-attack, they must not give the ball away and end the possession with at least one shot. Are the Toros on a Phoenix Rising-type juggernaut run? Of course not. They still sit 15th in the West and only have one win in their last five. But, they are playing with purpose right now and Gerson Echeverry has the best squad to choose from at the moment with Michael Salazar and Eric Bird readily available from the Dynamo. A playoff berth isn’t likely at all, but it’s still not entirely out of the question yet.
Back to this match, we got to see new signing Deshane Beckford and he did not disappoint. I’ve heard very positives things about the Jamaican attacking player and in a short appearance off the bench, he registered two shots and showcased blazing pace on the break. His addition could get the Toros back into the dangerous attacking side that they were with fellow Reggae Boy, Maalique Foster. The Chuy-Salazar-Foster trio was electric and that was when the club was playing best, but since Foster’s departure, players like Camilo Monroy or Kevin Rodriguez could not re-create the formula. Speaking of the attack, Carlos Small must be more clinical. He had some really good looks vs. El Paso, especially early on 1-v-1 with the keeper and he pushed it wide. With Salazar back in the picture, Small needs to take advantage of his chances to stay in the lineup. Ideally, this would be my lineup this weekend: Corti, Coronado, Adams/Donovan, Castellanos, Samuels, Bird, Martinez, Enriquez, Small, Salazar, and Beckford.
Lastly, major shoutout to the defensive unit for RGVFC as they made ten goal man Jerome Kiesewetter a non-factor.
Eric Bird: The Houston Dynamo loanee did well to take a touch and bury his chance right after halftime. He connected on 91% of his passes in the attacking half, created three chances, had seven tackles, and intercepted three passes. His performance earned him a bench spot on the USL Championship Team of the Week.
Jesus “Chuy” Enriquez: His motor was running on full steam vs. El Paso. He created four chances, including the assist on Bird’s goal and the early Carlos Small chance.
Robert Castellanos: Getting a few starts in a row, Castellanos turned in another stellar performance in central defense. He completed 40/44 passes, tallied nine clearances, and did not concede a foul.
This Week’s Quote-A-Bull: Eric Bird
On the club’s three-match unbeaten streak:
I think this is the point in the season where we’re fighting for our lives. We want to make the playoffs. We want to win. So, every game feels like an elimination game for us now. We know we have to be up for anything that comes our way. We’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep pushing and fighting for every result.
Austin Bold FC (10-9-6)
I don’t think many people predicted Bold FC this high up on the table, especially this late in the year. The 4th-place side also doesn’t have stats that will blow you away either as they are the only team holding a playoff spot in the West with a negative goal differential. They are 17th in the league in goals scored with 37 goals and have allowed 39, 15th-most in the league. A perfect example of this club’s unpredictability is their last two matches. They blew out Tulsa Roughnecks by a 5-1 scoreline before getting hammered 4-2 by OKC Energy the next match. But, whether they are overly impressive on paper or not, they are a quality side and sit 8-2-3 at home.
They have a very veteran-laden roster, including leading-scorer Andre Lima, who is 34 years old. Actually, Kris Tyrpak is the only one of their top four goalscorers that’s under 30 (Isaac Promise 31, Kleber 36). Jamaican right-back Sean McFarlane leads the team with six assists. A familiar face has been the mainstay in goal for Bold FC. Former San Antonio FC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo is 7th in the USL in saves and clean sheets.
Sunday, 7:30 PM Central, at Bold Stadium
RGVFC at Austin Bold FC