On a hot evening in Phoenix on Saturday, RGVFC couldn’t keep pace with the league-leading Rising FC. The Toros conceded three goals in the first half and pulled one back to finish with a 3-1 defeat. Juan Carlos Azocar scored the lone goal for the visitors, who will face Real Monarchs SLC tonight before returning home vs. San Antonio FC on Sunday.
RGVFC Toros (7-4-4)
It was always going to be a tall task to come away with anything from the match vs. Phoenix. The Toros were facing the best club in the USL Championship by most metrics and in Arizona, where Rising FC are unbeaten in 2021. By the half-hour mark on Saturday, the result was already in hand for the hosts.
Conceding three goals in the first 30 minutes puts yourself in a nearly impossible situation to get even a point vs. a juggernaut like Phoenix. RGVFC were forced to chase the game and couldn’t find the keys to unlock the Rising FC defense with any regularity. Azocar did score for the Toros and continues to establish himself as a much-needed star offensively. While Wilmer Cabrera has not received the necessary goalscoring from his strikers, he does have the Venezuelan loanee consistently making big plays for his attack.
Now with back-to-back matches without a win, RGVFC will face two clubs below the playoff cutoff line in the Mountain Division this week. El Paso Locomotive FC have increased their lead at the top of the table to six points and the Toros will need wins to keep pace.
Juan Carlos Azocar: He scored his fourth goal in just nine appearances this season. He tallied five total shots and one key pass for the Toros.
Rodrigo Lopez: The veteran midfielder created two chances and finished with two shots. He also added three tackles as he battled in the middle of the park.
Adrian Vera: Playing as a left wing-back, Vera assisted on Azocar’s goal, one of two chances he created, and had two clearances. Also, he wasn’t the defender directly responsible on any of Phoenix’s goals, which is an accomplishment in itself.
Real Monarchs SLC (3-9-4)
Occupying the basement of the Mountain Division, the Real Salt Lake affiliate has just one win in their last five matches. While only scoring 17 goals this season, they’ve conceded the sixth-most in the USL Championship (27 goals in 16 matches) and have only one clean sheet. Part of that troubling equation defensively is that the club has not had a steady presence at goalkeeper. They’ve used four different players at the crucial position in 2021 with 17-year-old Jeff Dewsnup leading the way with nine appearances.
Last time out, they got ahead of El Paso Locomotive FC with a 17th-minute goal from Charlie Wehan. But, the defense couldn’t hold onto the early lead and Locomotive FC cruised to a 3-1 victory. When these clubs met earlier this season, a giveaway from Justin Portillo led to Wan Kuzain scoring the winner in a 1-0 result at H-E-B Park.
For the Toros, they will need to be locked in because Monarchs SLC are a very different club at Zions Bank Stadium. While they have an 0-5-2 record on the road, they are 3-4-2 in Utah.
Players To Watch
Milan Iloski: The youngest of the three Iloski brothers playing in the USL Championship, Milan leads Monarchs SLC in goals (four) and assists (three). He also has twenty more shots than the player with the second-highest total on the roster.
Kyle Adams: Formerly the captain of RGVFC, Adams is one of the key players for his new club this season. He is the club leader in clearances, blocks, interceptions, aerial duels, and passes.
Ibrahim Bance: On loan with the club, the 20-year-old Burkina Faso international helps control the middle of the park for Jamison Olave’s squad. He has a club-high 23 tackles won, one goal, and six chances created.
San Antonio FC (5-4-6)
Three of SAFC’s five wins this season have come in their last five matches. That has allowed them to move level on points with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, who hold the final playoff position. San Antonio are in the top ten in goals and in the top five in shots while also not conceding an alarming number of goals. They have the best goal differential of any club outside of a playoff spot in the USL Championship and that +6 goal differential is better than every club in the Mountain Division except El Paso. The issue for SAFC has been not coming away with wins in close matches. They are tied for the most draws in the league and have only lost by multiple goals once in 2021.
Over the weekend, San Antonio picked up an impressive 3-0 win over the typically defensively-sound Austin Bold FC. Two of the three goals came on penalty kicks in a great result on the road for Alen Marcina’s squad. That marked SAFC’s third clean sheet of the season.
They play at El Paso Locomotive FC tonight before heading to McAllen to face the Toros. In the three South Texas Derby matchups this season, San Antonio have zero wins (two draws, one loss), despite two of those matches being at Toyota Field.
Players to Watch
Nathan: He is tied for the club lead with five goals, has the most shots, and has added an assist. He’s stepped up in the SAFC attack in the absence of Santiago Patino.
Matt Cardone: The longtime San Antonio shot-stopper is second in the league with 54 saves and has started every match for the club.
Cam Lindley: He has created the most chances for SAFC (37) and is tied for the club-high with three assists. The midfielder has attempted the most passes on the roster and averages 38.8 per 90 minutes.
Tonight, 9 PM Central, Zions Bank Stadium
RGVFC at Real Monarchs SLC
Sunday, 5:30 PM Central, H-E-B Park
San Antonio FC at RGVFC