All Toros, No Bull: RGVFC win their season opener, prepare to host Loyal SC on Thursday

For the first time in club history, RGVFC won their season opener, defeating New Mexico United 1-0 at H-E-B Park.

RGVFC Toros (1-0-0)

Wilmer Cabrera has to be pleased with his second attempt at a season opener with the club. Back in 2016, Cabrera and the Toros lost their first-ever match against Tulsa. To kick off 2021, Cabrera got the win in his first match back at the helm.

RGVFC battled some rust and are far from a finished product, but they played with some nice aggressiveness going forward and were stout at the backend. They outshot New Mexico United and had double the attempts on goal, also finishing with ten more corner kicks. NMU did hold the edge in possession, an unthinkable feat given how Cabrera’s 2016 club’s dominated the ball.

For the home side, it’s no small feat to come away with a clean sheet in your season opener against a quality opponent. To make it even more impressive, the two starting central defenders for RGV were Carter Manley, typically an outside-back, and Juan David Cabezas, who usually plays in the midfield. A lot of the action in the attack was on the wings with Alexis Cerritos and Christian Sorto with Vicente Sanchez and Baboucarr Njie providing boosts to the offense off the bench.

Top Toros

Elvis Amoh: The starting striker scored the match-winning goal for RGVFC. His deflected shot floated over a helpless Alexander Tambakis.

James Murphy: One of the few returning players, Murphy completed 86% of his passes, registered the assist on Amoh’s goal, and won 11/13 duels.

Grant Robinson: He was busy down the left flank, making five tackles and four interceptions. The left-back also created two chances and completed 84% of his passes in the attacking half. His performance earned him a place on the USL Team of the Week.

San Diego Loyal SC (0-1-0)

Expected to take the next step in their second season, Loyal SC had a reality check in their opener vs. powerhouse Phoenix Rising FC on ESPN 2. Phoenix finished with a 25-3 edge on shots and won comfortably, 4-1. Landon Donovan’s San Diego side did control 61% of possession and completed 80% of their passes. But, they were undone by an explosive Rising FC attack and will look to bounce back quickly when they travel to South Texas for tomorrow’s match.

Players to Watch

Charlie Adams: He completed 40/45 passes and created one chance vs. Phoenix. In 2020, he averaged 40.5 passes per match and

Jack Blake: The former championship-winning captain of Real Monarchs SLC, Blake made his debut for San Diego last week. Last season, he tallied 22 key passes with one goal and one assist.

Corey Hertzog: One of the most consistent strikers in the USL Championship, Hertzog finished with zero shots and zero aerial duels in the loss to Rising FC. Unable to make an impact in the opener, the 30-year-old will want to bounce back tomorrow vs. the Toros.

Key Matchup

San Diego’s Central Defenders vs. RGVFC attackers crowding the box

The first two goals for Phoenix in the win over San Diego came on rebounds. The Loyal SC central defense wasn’t quick enough to react to the ball after the initial saves and gave the Rising FC players too much space to cleanly strike from close range. The Toros will want to make sure there are players, in addition to the shooter, getting into the area to try and score second-chance goals.

The Deets

Tomorrow, May 6th, 7 PM Central

San Diego Loyal SC at RGVFC

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.