All Toros, No Bull: RGVFC set for a double-match week after another home win

Following a three-match road swing, RGVFC returned to H-E-B Park over the weekend and defeated Real Monarchs SLC, 1-0. Tonight, they host Austin Bold FC before hitting the road again to face rival San Antonio FC on Saturday.

RGVFC Toros (5-1-1)

When RGVFC lost 1-0 vs. El Paso Locomotive FC in May, the lone goal was the result of an early miscue from Tyler Deric that Luis Solignac took full advantage of. On Saturday, the Toros were on the positive end of a similar situation as Wan Kuzain dis-possessed Justin Portillo in his own penalty area and buried the chance.

That was the only goal that Wilmer Cabrera’s side would need as they turned in a special effort on the defensive end. They limited Real Monarchs to only three total shots, none of which forced a save out of Tyler Deric. RGVFC had 20 tackles with an 80% success rate to go along with 16 clearances, and winning 74% of their aerial duels. When you play that well in your own half, it will usually only take one goal at the opposite end to take all three points.

Outside of the goal, one of the only other noteworthy moments occurred late as Deric charged out to grab the ball and Timi Sobowale’s boot caught the RGVFC keeper in the leg and was shown a straight red card. Deric was able to continue and shouldn’t be hindered by that this week outside of some soreness.

Top Toros

Wan Kuzain: His performance earned him a place on the bench for the USL Championship Team of the Week. He took advantage of Portillo’s lapse and found the net, one of his four shots on the day.

Erik Pimentel: Back in the starting XI, the veteran central defender was crucial to the performance of the backline, tallying six tackles and completing 61/67 passes.

Adrian Diz Pe: It’s becoming a weekly trend for the Cuban defender to find himself here. He put in another great shift, seemingly the most frequently mentioned name throughout the broadcast, and finished with eight clearances and did not lose any of his four aerial duels.

Austin Bold FC (2-2-2)

Currently, Bold FC are tied for third-fewest goals conceded and are tied for second in most clean sheets in the USL Championship. Sounds great, right? Well, there’s two key pieces to the equation in the game of soccer. As great as they have been defensively, Austin have been that bad on the other side of the pitch…

They have the second-fewest shots and are tied for the second-fewest goals in the league. To put their offensive ineptitude into perspective, they benefitted from an own goal in their draw vs. Real Monarchs SLC and “own goal” is currently tied for the club-lead in goals scored. With their defensive prowess equaled by their ineptitude offensively, it almost makes perfect sense that Bold FC have the same amount of wins, losses, and draws thus far.

Last time out, they played to a scoreless draw (go figure) vs. New Mexico United. Bold FC finished with only 25% possession and 60% passing accuracy, but they prevented New Mexico (playing at home) from tallying a single shot on target. With tonight’s match being played in McAllen, it’s fair to expect a similar attention to the defensive side of the ball for Austin and to look for a point away from home.

Players to Watch

Sean “Ugo” Okoli: A former league MVP, he has scored one goal and leads the club with nine shots.

Elliot Panicco: Tied for the league-lead with three clean sheets, the loanee from Nashville SC has started five matches between the sticks and has only conceded two goals.

Fabien Garcia: He anchors one of the best defenses in the league and leads Bold FC in passes (88% accuracy), blocks, and interceptions.

San Antonio FC (2-1-4)

This will already be the third time that SAFC plays RGVFC this season. They have not won either of the first two matchups and that points to some inconsistency for the club early on in 2021. They play a physical brand of soccer (4th-most fouls in the USL Championship, #1 in red cards), disregard possession for the most part (4th-fewest passes in the league, 40% average possession), and look to beat you with speed on the counter-attack (6th-most goals in the league with 11). That style can be tough to play against, but it isn’t always a recipe for success.

Last Friday, San Antonio FC took their talents to Las Vegas and got themselves an early lead against Lights FC. Joaquin Varela was able to get free on a corner kick and finished a surprisingly easy opportunity from close-range. But, the hosts dominated the ball and would eventually find an equalizer by way of a penalty and the match ended 1-1.

After the draw in Sin City, SAFC will face New Mexico United on the road tonight. Leading scorer Santiago Patino will serve the second match of his three-match suspension.

Players to Watch

Justin Dhillon: Without Patino, the former Los Dos and Tacoma Defiance striker got the start up top vs. Las Vegas. His one shot this season was a late equalizer vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks. With that limited offensive output in two appearances this season, he will need to insert himself into the action vs. the Toros to make up for the absence of the club’s star forward.

Marcus Epps: The winger is tied for the club-lead in shots with 11 and has scored two goals, one in their last meeting vs. RGVFC. His speed and skill on the wing make him tough to stop with SAFC wanting to play on the break.

Joaquin Varela: He is coming off a USL Championship Team of the Week honor for his performance vs. Las Vegas, where the defender scored and tallied six clearances.

The Deets

Tonight, 7 PM Central, H-E-B Park

Austin Bold FC at RGVFC

Saturday, 7:30 PM Central, Toyota Field

RGVFC at San Antonio FC

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.