EDINBURG – After a scrappy first half that saw RGV FC hang with the top team in the USL, the Toros (5-9-5) ultimately fell to Phoenix Rising FC (11-2-5) 1-0 after a late goal Saturday evening gave the visitors their first-ever victory at H-E-B Park.
Prior to the contest, Phoenix Rising FC had only been able to muster three draws in three visits to the Rio Grande Valley. The Toros fell to 0-4-3 all-time against Phoenix and extended their scoreless streak to four straight matches.
“We had some chances and when you don’t score it’s always tough,” RGV FC coach Gerson Echeverry said. “But what I like was the overall effort and I thought defensively we were pretty organized. If you look, there weren’t many clear chances before the first goal, then once we started trying to make it a game and opened up trying to get the tie there were a couple of breakaways. But I was encouraged by the overall effort.”
Phoenix Rising FC entered the contest riding an eight-game winning streak in which the club has outscored its opponents 30-6 during that span, scoring three or more goals in each of those matches.
But the Toros held the visitors in check for most of Saturday night. They limited Phoenix to just two shots on net in the first half despite being dominated in time of possession (62 to 38%). They also improved from the first half to the second.
“The coaches set up a game plan for us and went five across the midfield and it worked,” said Toros defenseman Kyle Adams, who played a strong game with several key deflections and blocks throughout the opening half. “We shut them down. We knew how they were going to rotate in the middle there and we didn’t allow them to create that many chances around the box.”
RGV FC actually held onto the ball for a majority of the second half and outshot its opponents as well, doubling its shot total from four in the first half to eight. The only slip up came in the 62nd minute when Phoenix forward Adam Jahn slipped out on a breakaway to fire home the only goal of the night off goalkeeper Tyler Deric’s outstretched hands and off the crossbar into the net.
The difficulty for the Toros again came in putting the ball in the net, something they’ve struggled to do lately. The squad has tallied six games this season without a goal, including their four most recent contests in which they’ve been outscored 6-0.
The closest RGV FC came to bucking that goalless trend was on a breakaway late in the first half by forward Carlos Small. He took an aggressive slide tackle on the left side of the box and snuck his shot past the keeper, only to see it clang off the right post.
“Honestly, I saw the defense in a bad position, and I waited for someone to come attack with me but,” Small said. “Nobody was there so I decided to shoot, and hit the side post and went out.”
For what it’s worth, the Toros did improve from their 3-1 defeat when they visited Phoenix Rising FC on May 10. Saturday’s narrow win also marks only the second time Phoenix has been held to one goal all season and the first since May 4.
Phoenix Rising FC returns home for its next contest against the Austin Bold at 9:30 p.m. Friday. The Toros will take to the pitch again when they wrap up their three-game homestand at 7:30 p.m. Saturday to face Sacramento Republic FC at H-E-B Park.