After going eight straight matches without a win, RGVFC tasted victory over the weekend as the Toros topped Atlanta United 2, 3-2.
RGVFC Toros (9-9-7)
Supporters across the Valley can finally let out a little sigh of relief as their club broke out of a lengthy slump to pick up three points at H-E-B Park.
The match certainly didn’t start out well for the Toros as Macky Diop scored from the edge of the box in just the 3rd minute to put Atlanta ahead. But, RGVFC equalized after a Rodrigo Lopez shot deflected off the post to Carter Manley, who put the ball on a platter for the club’s leading scorer, Elvis Amoh. That goal was his ninth of the season.
Darwin Matheus put the visitors back in the lead just before the half as he danced around multiple defenders before softly chipping the ball over Tyler Deric.
The Toros tied things up not long after the second half began with Adrian Diz Pe heading home a corner-kick delivery from Andres Flores. After hitting the post earlier in the match, Jonas Fjellberg scored the go-ahead goal in his debut on loan from FC Cincinnati. For the second consecutive match, Frank Lopez picked up the assist.
While there was end-to-end action to close the match with RGVFC trying to hold on and ATL UTD 2 trying to equalize, the score line would remain 3-2 in favor of the hosts. Wilmer Cabrera used six substitutes in the second half and continued to rely on the fresh faces on the roster.
The win was crucial and should give Wilmer’s side confidence entering an important week of two matches. But, the victory doesn’t undo the recent slide and the Toros still find themselves outside of the playoff positions, two points behind Austin Bold FC. Before the club’s win vs. ATL UTD 2, FiveThirtyEight.com’s projection gave RGVFC 20% playoff odds, down from 73% midseason. As of 9/26, that percentage has only risen to 23%.
Tonight, RGVFC face New Mexico United, who they are level on points with, and on Saturday, Real Monarchs SLC, who occupy the basement of the Mountain Division. Two wins would do wonders for the team’s postseason dreams while anything less will increase the pressure down the stretch. For what it’s worth, in six midweek matches this season (Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday), the Toros have won three, drawn twice, and only lost once.
Adrian Diz Pe: He scored the crucial equalizer for the Toros and also put in his typical, quality performance on the backline (four clearances, four interceptions, and two tackles). He was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week bench.
Jonas Fjellberg: In his first match in an RGVFC kit, he scored the match-winning goal (one of five shots on the day) and added two key passes.
Elvis Amoh: The club’s leading scorer tapped home the opening goal and also created three chances in the match.
New Mexico United (9-8-7)
While the Toros were trending down, New Mexico United were heading the other direction. They have only lost two of their last ten matches and defeated San Antonio FC over the weekend, 1-0. Chris Wehan scored the lone goal at Toyota Field.
The calling card for NMU is their defensive prowess. With a quality backline in front of Alex Tambakis, the club is tied for fourth-fewest goals conceded (28 goals in 24 matches) and have only allowed multiple goals in six matches. New Mexico United also boasts a solid home-pitch advantage, just as they did in 2019. They are 6-1-4 at Isotopes Park this season.
Players to Watch
Chris Wehan: Transferred back to his former club from Orange County SC during the season, Wehan has eight goals, three assists, and 40 chances created in 2021.
Alex Tambakis: One of the league’s best goalkeepers for years now, Tambakis is in the top ten for saves (61) and clean sheets (six).
Kalen Ryden: A crucial piece to the Real Monarchs SLC championship squad in 2019, he’s the anchor to the NMU defense with club-highs in clearances (78), blocks (16), and aerial duels won (64).
Real Monarchs SLC (4-16-5)
The Real Salt Lake affiliate also ended a streak over the weekend. After six consecutive losses, they came away with a scoreless draw vs. New York Red Bulls II. Midfielder Malik Johnson picked up a red card in the match.
Tonight, they face El Paso Locomotive FC in Texas, which will be a tall task for Jamison Olave’s squad. This season, Monarchs SLC are 1-10-2 away from Utah. In addition to that rough road record, the club is tied for last in goals scored (21) this season and have conceded the 7th-most (42). They carry the fourth-worst goal differential at -21.
Players to Watch
Milan Iloski: With the club’s offensive struggles, Iloski actually leads the team in goals and assists with only four and three, respectively.
Charlie Wehan: The 22-year-old (younger brother of the above-mentioned Chris Wehan) has three goals and one assist in just 14 matches.
Kyle Adams: The former RGVFC captain is still guiding the way for the Monarchs’ backline. He has club-highs in clearances (99), blocks (31), interceptions (33), aerial duels won (41), and passes (1,050).
Tonight, 8 PM Central, at Isotopes Park
RGVFC at New Mexico United
Saturday, 7:30 PM Central, H-E-B Park
Real Monarchs SLC at RGVFC