A look at the 2018 season for the Toros.
The 2018 campaign for RGVFC was not one that the club desired as they missed the playoffs, but there are positives to look forward to in 2019. The Toros finished with a record of 8-12-14 under first-year head coach Gerson Echeverry.
Losing players to the Houston Dynamo was not a big issue. In fact, it became more of a rehab center for the Houston Dynamo. For example, goalkeeper Michael Nelson was able to get a few games in, as did Chris Seitz and Tyler Deric. Adam Lundqvist provided a few minutes on the back line as well as AJ De la Garza and Jared Watts. Other contributors included Eric Bird, Memo Rodriguez, and Luis Gil.
Now, we take a look at each position group on the Toros’ official roster.
RGVFC had Nico Corti and Matt Sanchez were the two main keepers for the Toros until the Dynamo loanees made their way down to the Valley for assignments.
Matt Sanchez look to have earned the starting spot early in the preseason, but some early season blunders cost him playing time to Corti, who quickly cemented himself into the starter role. Nico had some great performances along with some clean sheets to keep the number one spot. As the season progressed, there was a bit of a rotation and Corti remained as the main keeper until Houston sent down Michael Nelson and Tyler Deric to get minutes in. Nelson got seven starts, conceding four goals and had three clean sheets. On the other hand, Deric had five starts conceding five goals and one clean sheet.
Overall, the goalkeeper situation for Toros is a great one because they have multiple choices at this stage. The most ideal would be to have the tandem of Corti and Nelson. Both have material to be Dynamo starters in the future. In case RGV loses one or the other to a call-up, then Sanchez would be the next man up.
The back line deserves much more credit this season only because the overall record could have been that much worse. A team that only had one red card, 11 clean sheets, and only gave up three spot kick opportunities. That is very good. The bad… giving up late equalizers or game winners (aka “La Tragedia” no seas tan negativo Willie Gonzalez)
Kyle Adams, Sheldon Sullivan, Kai Greene, Manny Padilla, Omar Ontiveros, Robert Castellanos, Conor Donovan, and Derek Luke composed the main line of defense. AJ De la Garza was a mid-season assignee that provided leadership.
Donovan, Ontiveros, Adams, and Sullivan were the regular starters for RGV. Then Greene, Padilla, Castellanos would fill in when necessary. Luke was player that came back from a serious injury but never found a solid rhythm. De la Garza had four starts in his way to recovery for an injury-riddled Dynamo team.
Overall, there could be some impact on the back line as a possible result of their great play. Donovan was signed by the first team and Adams and Ontiveros could possibly get reps with Houston.
The Toros had a bevy of players in this position as the season went along there was a bit of a rotation. The midfield that featured the most included Todd Wharton (skipper), Nicolas Perea (Comeback player of the year), Pablo Aguilar, and Jesus Enriquez. Each of them accumulated over 27 appearances and 22 starts as a minimum. Matias Zaldivar had 19 appearances and 18 starts as the first person next in the rotation to get minutes. Jorginho James and Bryce Marion each had 13 appearances with nine and four starts respectively. James was utilized more of defensive sub. Marion was primarily used as an offensive midfielder to create chances.
You have players like David Cabrera, Brandon Morales, Romilio Hernandez, and Camilo Monroy, who each had limited appearances during the season. From that group, if given the proper opportunity next season (if brought back), some can provide a filler role for playing time.
Eric Bird, Memo Rodriguez, and Luis Gil were loaned from the Dynamo to get playing minutes as they were looking to get back into the Houston fray.
In conclusion, there will some heavy departures in the position as some players made a high impression and will probably end up at Dynamo camp.
The Toros were a team at times that struggled to find the back of the net during most of the season. In the beginning, it was Aldo Quintanilla, Monday Etim, Jordan Jones, and even at times Jesus Enriquez, getting playing time in the attack. As the season progressed, it received some much-needed help in the form of Wilmer Cabrera and Carlos Small. The latter provided an instant spark when he became match ready providing important goals. On the other hand, Cabrera br0ught a youthful spark and was a regular starter for a chunk of the year.
Early on, Quintanilla would supply the goal but then a sudden dip in form halted that production. Enriquez, listed as a midfielder, picked up the scoring chances as well as Wharton. Nevertheless, a series of scoreless draws provided a much-needed change.
Enter Carlos Small; the young Panamanian forward brought some life to the attack. The impact was instant as clearer chances became abundant and thus some results became positive.
Despite missing out on the playoffs, the Toros were able to eliminate rivals San Antonio in a 1-1 draw in which Small provided the equalizer.
In all, one can assume that all forwards can come back. We could maybe see one or two departures to Houston.
If the roster is the same for 2019 season, the Toros can definitely fight for a postseason spot. Yes, there will be roster changes, but then again, most of the team has an average of 23 to 24 years of age. Going forward, there is a lot to be excited about as the maturity will be there, under the direction of Gerson Echeverry. The next season there will be some giant leaps to make a postseason run.