The heavy rains that fell across Texas over the past few weeks made for a difficult match with less than ideal playing conditions. Both teams struggled offensively on such a wet pitch.
The match was delayed for an hour due to storms in the area, but all was a go after the weather cleared. The delay didn’t appear to unsettle RGV FC as they started fiercely from the opening whistle.
The great bulk of possession in the opening stages was with RGV, but the San Antonio defense was holding firm. But when San Antonio’s offense went forward in attack, their passing often went astray, letting RGV off the hook.
After the opening 10 minutes of the match, San Antonio started to use a high press which was unsettling for RGV. Playing that style would leave San Antonio vulnerable to the counter attack, but the heavy pitch was slowing things down for RGV, making the counter difficult to execute.
The frustration from the lack of any real clear-cut goal opportunities could be seen on the players’ faces by the middle of the first half. The competitive nature of the derby started to come through as fouls started flying in, causing several shoving matches between players.
The best goal chance of the opening half-hour was a poor effort coming from distance in the 29th minute. RGV defender Kai Greene ran at the San Antonio goal and shot from 25 yards out, but it went wide and missed the goal by several yards.
RGV midfielder Memo Rodriguez nearly opened the scoring for the Toros as the ball was whipped into the box. The San Antonio defense missed two chances at a clearing header, but Rodriguez was still unable to get the shot away after turning, allowing San Antoino FC goalkeeper Josh Ford to claim the ball.
RGV were the more dangerous team throughout the first half, but a mixture of poor finishing and the weather made things difficult for the hosts. That spared a San Antonio defense which at times was looking nervous, but was doing just enough to keep their opponents out.
Just when it looked like San Antonio FC would get to the half without conceding, a set-piece gave RGV FC the lead with four minutes remaining. A corner was sent in perfectly, allowing Kevin Garcia to get a glancing header away and give the Toros the lead at half-time.
San Antonio FC’s Danny Garcia took the first shot of the second half when he was able to find space 25 yards out, allowing him a powerful shot. But RGV goalkeeper Calle Brown was up to the task and saved the shot easily. Despite that disappointment, the signs were encouraging for San Antonio FC in the opening stages of the half.
The biggest challenge for San Antonio was that they were not able to move the ball quickly, partly due to the still waterlogged pitch. That allowed RGV FC to defend easily, as they had time to gather their shape and shut things down.
Despite little possession of the ball, Rio Grande nearly doubled their lead on the hour mark if not for some stunning Ford goalkeeping. Rodriguez controlled the ball with his first touch and shot with the bounce, seemingly bound for the back of the net, only for Ford to punch it out.
San Antonio had a hopeful chance to score after a long ball that went over RGV midfielder George Malki’s head landed with San Antonio defender Milton Palacios. Palacios cut inside two defenders and played the ball back for Greg Cochrane, who was denied by a phenomenal Brown save.
RGV’s Rodriguez continued to look dangerous with volleys and in the 69th minute he was at it again, but Ford made good saves. Moments later, Green played Kyle Murphy through on goal, allowing him a shot which was again well saved by Ford.
The fans thought the RGV Toros had scored their second goal as Rodriguez sent in a cross that found Green who was able to get a strong header away, going just wide of goal.
As the time wore on, Rio Grande Valley stayed at ease and passed the ball around the field, keeping San Antonio FC with no chances to score. RGV head coach Wilmer Cabrera started eventually started using his bench to eat up more of the clock and to avoid giving San Antonio FC even a sniff of victory. His efforts worked, as the Toros held on for the 1-0 win.
Top image: San Antonio FC faced off against Rio Grande Valley Toros on June 4, 2016 in the Rio Grande Valley. Photo courtesy of RGV FC Toros.