Continuing a troubling, winless slide, RGVFC settled for a draw with Loudoun United FC over Labor Day weekend at H-E-B Park.
RGVFC Toros (8-8-6)
Saturday’s match vs. Loudoun United FC, the club with the fewest points in the USL Championship, was set up to be a bounce back opportunity for the struggling Toros. Entering the match on a five-match winless streak, RGVFC were back home and facing a very beatable opponent on paper. But, this would not be the performance the club was looking for to end their slump.
Elvis Amoh was able to convert a penalty in the 14th minute against his former club after Emilio Ycaza was chopped down in the box. However, less than ten minutes later, a penalty for Loudoun would level things.
Roberto Alburquerque fouled Robby Dambrot in the penalty area on a corner kick and Ted Ku-Dipietro beat Tyler Deric from the spot.
RGVFC had two potential go-ahead goals wiped out by the offside flag. Both were correctly whistled, despite being close calls. Looking for a winner at home, the Toros pressed the action late, which allowed for good chances for the hosts as well as counter-attacking opportunities for Loudoun. But, neither club could find a goal to break the tie and the match ended 1-1.
Statistically, the Toros were the better club at H-E-B Park on Saturday. They held the advantage in possession and outshot Loudoun by a 27-6 margin (8-2 in shots on goal). But, they couldn’t convert when they needed to and are now on a six-match winless streak. For Loudoun, that was only the second time this season that the D.C. United affiliate picked up a result on the road, losing seven of their nine away fixtures thus far.
The Toros won their first three matches and five of their first seven and were either first or second in the Mountain Division for much of the season. Now, they find themselves in a slump where they’ve only won one of their last nine matches. They’ve fallen to fourth on the table and sit only two points clear of New Mexico United, who are just below the playoff cutoff line. To be fair, despite the poor form and slide down the table, it’s not as if the season is in complete disaster mode. RGVFC are only two points behind second-place Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, the club they play next in back-to-back matches. A pair of solid results for Wilmer Cabrera’s club vs. Switchbacks FC would be massive for confidence and playoff positioning. On the other side of the equation, two more matches without points could be troubling for the Toros’ playoff push.
Elvis Amoh: He stepped up and buried the penalty, scoring his team-leading eighth goal of the season. The RGVFC target man finished with five shots, completed 19/22 passes, and tallied three tackles on the night.
Emilio Ycaza: In his debut for the Toros, he was a sparkplug in the attack. The 24-year-old drew five fouls, including the one earning RGVFC a penalty, created one chance, and connected on 87% of his passes.
James Murphy: Huge performance from the New Jersey native, who could make a case for the club’s Player of the Year when it’s all said and done. He racked up seven tackles, completed 41 passes (87.2% accuracy), and created four chances. His defensive effort on a counter-attack from Loudoun late in the match also helped solidify the draw.
— Rio Grande Valley FC (@RGVFC) September 7, 2021
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (9-7-5)
While the Toros have been dropping, Switchbacks FC have been rising in the Mountain Division. They are the highest-scoring club in the league and entered the weekend on a five-match unbeaten run, scoring 17 goals in the five fixtures. But, that streak came to an end on Saturday vs. New Mexico United.
In the 3-2 loss, Switchbacks FC controlled 59% possession and finished level on shots with New Mexico. But, they could only put four of their 15 shots on target while the hosts had nine efforts on goal.
The match also cost them star forward Michee Ngalina (eight goals, eight assists), who was shown a red card for throwing the ball aggressively at a ball boy at Isotopes Park. The league suspended Ngalina for two matches and he was also fined. Switchbacks FC will be without him for their match tonight vs. Real Monarchs SLC and Saturday vs. the Toros.
Players to Watch
Hadji Barry: The leader in the Golden Boot race, Barry has scored 20 goals this season (seven more than second-best in the USL-C) and leads the league in shots. He’s added four assists and 33 chances created.
Jimmy Ockford: While it’s the attack that rightfully gets the headlines for Switchbacks FC, Ockford has been a star on the club’s backline. He leads the team in passes, clearances (40+ more than the next highest player), interceptions, and aerial duels won.
Deshane Beckford: In 18 appearances, the former RGVFC winger has five assists and three goals. Playing in one of the most explosive offenses in the league, Beckford has been dynamite up the wing for Brendan Burke’s club.
Saturday, 8 PM CT, Weidner Field
RGVFC at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC