EDINBURG, Texas (May 9, 2019) – Rio Grande Valley FC (3-3-3, 12 pts.) puts their unbeaten streak to the test on the road as they face Phoenix Rising FC (2-1-5, 11 pts.) at Casino Arizona Field. The Western Conference matchup is set to kick off on Friday, May 10 at 9:30 P.M. CST on ESPN+.
Historically, the Toros have been unable to earn a win against the Rising FC but look to change all of that on Friday night. The series is 0-2-3 overall in favor of the opposing side. The last battle between the two sides occurred on September 5th of the 2018 season which resulted in a tough 0-1 road loss for RGV FC.
Rio Grande Valley FC is on a hot streak, winning three out of their last five matches, drawing on two occasions. The most recent win, 2-1, on the road against top ranked Portland Timbers 2 boosted the confidence of the young Toros side. Phoenix has drawn on five occasions this season, conceding 9 goals thus far, something to keep an eye on as the Toros have found the back of the net on 16 occasions.
The front attack of RGV FC features a unique combination of experienced and young players which has worked out well for head coach Gerson Echeverry. Out wide the team benefits from the agility and speed of forward Maalique Foster who has assisted on multiple goals so far and helps unbalance defenses to create room for the center attacking forwards.
For the Phoenix Rising attack, Junior Flemmings is the goal scoring leader as he has tallied four goals thus far. Another troublesome statistic for the Toros as they prepare to face Phoenix is their clean sheet count, now at four, with goalkeeper Zac Lubin. This makes them a tough defense to face, regardless of how the attacking side looks for RGV FC, there must be an emphasis on finishing scoring chances.
Goals and scoring chances off the bench have been a tool that is proving to be a difference maker lately with players like Michael Salazar, who scored a hat-trick in just under 14 minutes on the road a few weeks back. “It is a great feeling to come on and help my teammates. I know we were in a hole and coach brought me on to come in and try to make a difference and I was happy to contribute and help the team.” This mentality is recurring throughout the locker room as the entire squad sees the bigger picture; earn results and rise in the standings to earn a playoff bid.
RGV FC head coach Gerson Echeverry is a student of the game and provides unique insight on the opponent week in and week out. Nothing changed this week as he offered up his analysis of the tough side they are facing on the road this Friday; “For one, they are an extremely technical team but not just that, very athletic as well. It is a team that their overall athleticism is very good. Between being able to get goals on set pieces and on crosses, just because they are able to run behind you, around you, it is very complicated defensively so we need to be aware of all the runners that they have, all the key players and making sure that we don’t leave people wide open because there is too much quality to leave guys as open."
Confidence is on both sides of the ball for the Toros and their recent scoring surge, which has helped them break the top 10 in the Western Conference standings, is proof that the early preaching from Echeverry about finishing in the final third has been taken seriously and adjustments have been made to make RGV FC a dangerous attacking unit.
Updates on the match will be provided via Twitter at @RGVFC or by following #SomosToros. To see more matchday information, visit www.rgvfc.com.
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