EDINBURG — The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros, South Texas’ USL Championship squad, will be heading home to H-E-B Park in Edinburg after a hectic and chaotic week with a singular focus for its third home game of the season: Winning.
In a week that included Hurricane Hanna and the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic battered the Valley, RGV FC faced a three-game schedule with matches in three cities across seven days.
Despite playing some of their best soccer of the reconfigured 2020 USL regular season, the Toros narrowly failed to secure their first victory in three tries, and now, sitting at 0-3-2 and fifth place in the USL Group D standings, the club will be more determined than ever to earn its first home victory of the season against FC Tulsa, its second home game of the season without fans.
“We need to win. For me, right now, it’s not about style or points,” RGV FC head coach Gerson Echeverry said. “We need three points to get ourselves into the winning column. We can play very nicely, play very well but if we don’t get those three points, then we are back in a hole.”
The Toros tallied a pair of draws and a one-goal loss in their last three contests.
The team earned another draw and hard-fought point, its first of the season, with a game-tying strike by winger Taiberson Nunes during the 94th minute in its last home game against San Antonio FC, the first without fans in attendance, which was rescheduled as a precautionary measure after a member of the RGV FC staff tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago.
The Toros were poised to nab their first win of the 2020 season in the first match of their two-game road trip against OKC Energy FC only to have their fortunes reversed after OKC’s Frank Lopez knotted it up at 1-1 in the 88th minute.
Rio Grande Valley FC lost its last contest, a road match against San Antonio FC, 1-0 after the squad was outshot 19-9, making it imperative for the club to become more offensively aggressive with five of 16 regular season games already in the books.
“We’ve missed pretty easy chances in the last three games. We’ve missed some chances against San Antonio at home,” Echeverry said. “We missed some chances at OKC to put them away on the road. And we missed two or three really good chances, also, at San Antonio to get something out of it, so those golden opportunities need to be put in the back of the net.”
“I mean, with no fans it is kind of weird because fans are something the sport is used to, but we should be getting used to it by now,” said Toros midfielder DeShane Beckford, who scored the team’s last goal July 22 in Oklahoma City.
“This weekend should be a tough one as we know them as a good team, but we have to just stick to the plan and play our game and we should come out on top.”
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) July 26, 2020
The Toros will also be jockeying for position in the USL’s Group D standings when they welcome FC Tulsa to town.
RGV FC and FC Tulsa both currently sit three and five points back of OKC Energy FC and San Antonio FC, respectively, for Group D’s two postseason berths. Despite both teams currently possessing two points apiece, FC Tulsa holds an edge over the Toros in the standings due to their respective goal differentials (0 and minus-6).
Rio Grande Valley FC, however, should enter the contest with a competitive advantage over its regional rivals.
FC Tulsa has only played twice in the last five months. It has yet to play a home game and will be playing its first match in 19 days when it takes the pitch at H-E-B Park.
The Toros, meanwhile, have played more games to date this season than any opponent on their schedule and will enter tonight’s contest after a lengthy layoff as well.
“I feel that after these three games that we played last week, those back to back games were pretty heavy,” RGV FC defender Robert Castellanos said. “But this time, we had a week’s rest, so I think we have everybody on the same page and 100% healthy to go out there, get three points and start moving up from here.”
The Toros’ goal against FC Tulsa? Be the most aggressive squad offensively from the opening whistle.
“We have to go after it right from the start, apply pressure to Tulsa, not let them have possession and just end up controlling the game and the tempo,” Castellanos said.
“Tulsa’s a team that likes to possess the ball,” Echeverry said. “We’ve got to take it away from them and more importantly, when we have it, it’s about keeping it. I think that most of our problems are inability to retain the ball and show some patience when needed to be and having that killer instinct. We need to have it.”
The Toros’ matchup with FC Tulsa will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN+ and locally on Somos El Valle 5.2 with kickoff set for 8 p.m. Saturday.