EDINBURG — After numerous inclement weather stoppages delayed and later interrupted play, the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros dropped their fifth game of the USL Championship’s regular season restart, falling 2-1 to regional foe FC Tulsa in game that started around 11:30 p.m. Saturday night and ended by 2:30 a.m. Sunday at a crowdless H-E-B Park.
The start of the contest was delayed due to pouring rain and nearby lightning strikes in Edinburg and surrounding areas, which pushed kickoff back three and a half hours from its originally scheduled 8 p.m. start time.
“Obviously, it is difficult, it is not easy because whenever you prepare … everything is pretty much preparation for us to start at the correct time,” RGV FC head coach Gerson Echeverry said in a postgame Zoom news conference. “Obviously, we got delayed an hour or so, it makes it a little tougher when you start that late, but it was for both teams. In that sense it is not the ideal situation, not the ideal circumstances, but it is what it is.”
FC Tulsa (1-0-2) seized a 1-0 lead after forward Marlon Santos scored the game’s opening goal on a left-footed strike to the back of the net after a corner kick during the 26th minute.
However, play was again suspended during the 42nd minute due to lightning strikes which led to a shortened halftime after the teams returned to the pitch.
“The rain and delay did affect the momentum of the game,” Toros defender Robert Coronado said. “I feel like we had the momentum on our side even though we were down 1-0. Our mood stayed positive and we were ready for the green light to get back on the field. At the end of the day, the delays are things we can’t control.”
RGV FC (0-4-2) capitalized on newfound momentum out of the break, as Coronado fired a long cross toward fellow defender Robert Castellanos inside the box, scoring an equalizer goal, his first of the season, off a header that careened in off the back-right post.
“I saw that there was a lot of space in front of me to receive the ball, so I took advantage of the opportunity to get the ball from Chelo (Isidro Martinez) off of the corner kick,” Coronado said. “I took a touch and saw Caste (Robert Castellanos) going back post, so I crossed it in, and he did very well to get on the end of it and put it away for us.”
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) August 2, 2020
“It started with a corner kick that we have run through since the preseason. Chelo (Isidro Martinez) played a back pass to Robert Coronado and, while the opponent team was trying to clear the box, I made a looping run to the second post and, well, the rest can speak for itself,” Castellanos said.
“I mean, it felt good at the moment, helping our team get back into the game with the equalizer. But we still had a job to finish and we fell short. Overall not satisfied; it wasn’t good enough.”
FC Tulsa responded quickly, though, after Toros defender Kyle Adams committed a foul that resulted in a penalty shot. Forward Ariele Martinez powered the shot to the bottom left corner of the net past the goalkeeper to give FC Tulsa a 2-1 edge during the 74th minute.
— FC Tulsa (@FCTulsa) August 2, 2020
The Toros were unable to add another goal down the stretch despite getting several attempts off throughout the second half.
RGV FC held advantages after tallying 11 total shots, completing 84.6% of its passes and maintaining ball control for 60% of the contest. By comparison, FC Tulsa totaled eight shots, four on target completing 76.7% of the passes.
“I think, not so much the late start, I thought that once we started then the delay, that kind of maybe that made it a little tougher because now it gives the other team a chance to rest a little bit more and I felt that it was going to be an issue with energy and stuff, it would’ve been in our favor,” Echeverry said.
“But, once the long delay gave them an ability to catch the wind, realize and regroup. They also changed their formation, so they got an opportunity to read what we were doing because I thought we were being successful in regard to moving the ball and finding some pockets. Unfortunately, the final third wasn’t good enough.”
— RGVFC (@RGVFC) August 2, 2020
The loss drops Rio Grande Valley FC to 0-4-2 on the season and leaves them in sole possession of fifth place out of five teams in the USL Championship Group D standings.
The Toros have two points and a minus-7 goal differential, the third-worst in the USL Championship, with 10 regular season games still to go. They trail San Antonio FC and FC Tulsa by eight and three points, respectively, for Group D’s two postseason berths.
RGV FC will return to action for a two-game road trip beginning with a game at Austin Bold FC with an 8 p.m. kickoff Saturday and ending with a contest at OKC Energy FC at 7 p.m. on Aug. 15.
Both games can be viewed nationally on ESPN+, the network’s online streaming service.
The Toros will then return to the Valley for a two-game homestand against Austin Bold FC at 8 p.m. on Aug. 22 and San Antonio FC at 7 p.m. on Aug. 28.
RGV FC has not yet announced its stadium attendance policy for the remainder of the season nor whether fans will be permitted to attend that pair of upcoming home games.
The club has played its two home games since the USL Championship’s season restarted without fans and it hasn’t played a game at H-E-B Park with fans since its season opener, a 5-1 loss to LA Galaxy II on March 8.