RGV FC Toros Mid-Season Review

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Rio Grande Valley FC will arrive at the halfway point of its United Soccer League (USL) season when it completes tomorrow night’s game against Orange County FC at H-E-B Park in Edinburg.  Through 15 games of their 32 game schedule, they are 6-7-2 (20 points) and sit two places outside the final playoff spot in 10th place in the Western Conference.

It is time to take a mid-season look at what the Toros have accomplished to this point and what lies ahead.

First Half Observations:

Season Highlight Match:    RGV FC-3   OKC Energy-0  (April 29th)

“We see this performance as something to build off.”  Midfielder Eric Bird said this in the game story after this match on the USL website.  After the dominating performance against the Energy, it was hard not to be optimistic.  Eric Bird ran onto a perfect pass from Dynamo loan midfielder Joe Holland to score the opening goal in the 8th minute.  Holland then scored his first goal as a professional in the 38th minute.  Another Dynamo loanee, Jose Escalante, put the game away when he scored midway through the second half.  Most impressively, 8 of their 9 shots were on target.  The Toros defense was well organized and OKC was able to only put 1 of its 13 shots on goal.

This performance came on the heels of a slow and inconsistent start to the season, including a disappointing home loss to Tulsa the weekend before.  A week later RGV FC beat Swope Park and was then on a streak of 3 wins in 4 matches.  Things were looking up at that time.

Most Disappointing Match:    RGV FC-0   LA Galaxy 2 (Los Dos)-1 (June 17th)

It would very easy to pick the two blow-out losses the Toros suffered in Sacramento and Kansas City for this “honor”.  The home loss to Galaxy 2 sticks out as the most disappointing in my estimation.  The Toros played Los Dos twice at home in less than a month.  The first match resulted in a 1-1 draw where RGV FC gave up a second half goal to surrender the early lead built from Kyle Murphy’s 36th minute goal.  So Toros fans were looking for payback a few weeks later when Los Dos returned.  What the record crowd for a USL match at H-E-B Park of 8,656 saw instead was a 1-0 loss on a bad giveaway that allowed 16-year-old Jonah Estrada to score his first ever professional goal. On the other end, 445 passes and 60% of the possession turned into a grand total of 2 shots on goal by the Toros.

This match was a bad send off for the three game road trip coming next. Though the Toros were able to pull out an impressive win against Colorado Springs, a week after the Switchbacks had ended San Antonio’s season opening undefeated streak, they also suffered two humiliating losses, 6-2 in Sacramento and 4-0 to Swope Park to return home on a real down note.

Player who has impressed me the most this year:  Kai Greene (outside back)

Greene has really stepped up his game in 2017 and he certainly doesn’t lack for confidence.  “I feel like I’m the best one-on-one defender in the league, to be honest.”  A USL Team of the Week place earlier in the year is proof that others are recognizing his quality too.

The link below is a profile on Greene published on May 19 in McAllen’s The Monitor by Greg Luca (quote above is from this article):

http://www.themonitor.com/sports/article_45e5a328-3d01-11e7-9378-f72b19660db7.html

Charlie Ward Promoted to Dynamo:

On June 30th the Houston Dynamo announced that midfield iron-man Charlie Ward had signed an MLS contract and would join the Dynamo roster, becoming the 6th Toro to be promoted to the Dynamo in the short history of RGV FC.  Despite his move to Houston, the Toros have likely not seen the last of Ward, who likely will join the Toros regularly on loan when the Dynamo players currently involved in the CONCACAF Gold Cup return.

Dynamo and former Toros head coach Wilmer Cabrera explained why Ward had been added to the roster in comments in a Dynamo Press Release earlier this month:

“Throughout the six months he has played there and every time he comes and join us, he proves that he has enough quality to be part of the Houston Dynamo. After the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup games that he played here he earned the right to be here because what he has shown in the field and what he has brought to the team,” Cabrera said. “We are happy to bring him, we here happy that he has earned the right to be with the first-team.”

First-Half Statistical Notes:

  • Ivan Magalhaes is the only player who has started all 15 matches and leads the team with 1,350 minutes-playing every minute of every match.  Not surprisingly, Magalhaes leads the team in the majority of defensive statistical categories.
  • Memo Rodriquez and Ruben Luna lead the team with 3 goals each.  Rodriquez, who scored all his goals in a single match, is not likely to be returning to RGV FC anytime soon as he is now a regular in the Dynamo game day lineup.  Eric Bird and Todd Murphy have two goals apiece.  The team sits in 24th place in the league with only 17 total goals…only 3 more than league leader Romario Williams from Charleston has scored himself.
  • Emilio Garcia, on loan from Pachuca, and Todd Wharton lead the team with two assists.
  • RGV FC is near the bottom (28th out of 30) of the league in total shots (145) but tied for 13th in conversion rate (14%).
  • Garcia leads with 16 chances created, despite only appearing in 11 games.
  • Borja Angoitia, who has played 8 of the 15 matches, leads with 16 saves.  Dynamo loanee Calle Brown has one more shutout (3) than Angoitia.  Because Angoitia was in the net for the Sacramento and Swope losses, he has conceded 14 of the 20 goals the team has conceded this year.
  • Jorginho James and Todd Wharton each have 4 yellow cards.  Both are on Accumulation Warnings and will be suspended for the next yellow card.  Victor Garza received the only red card of the year early in the season. Interestingly forward Ruben Luna has conceded the most fouls this year (28).

Second Half Preview:

Upcoming Schedule:

Home: 8   Away: 9

The season resumes with back-to-back home and away matches against Orange County SC, tomorrow night in Edinburg and Saturday in Southern California.  OC is 2 points back of the Toros, but have only played 12 games so far…the fewest in the league.

Longest home-stand:  2 games (twice)-August 12 and 19 and Sept. 9 and 16th.

Longest road stretch:  3 games-July 29 through August 6 in the Pacific Northwest.

USL Texas Derby matches:  2 games in the final 4 weeks of season (including the regular season finale)…both in San Antonio.

The challenging remaining schedule includes 4 matches against Western Conference leaders Real Monarchs SLC and San Antonio FC.

Camilo Monroy:

The young Columbian attacker has been the most exciting Toro player when he has been on the field this year.  Unfortunately, injuries have held him back and he has only played in 5 games. I will welcome seeing a lot more of him in the second half of the season.

Jose Escalante/Christian Lucatero:

Another young Latin American attacking player (from Honduras), Jose Escalante, has had limited impact this season.  Like fellow Toro and Dynamo Academy graduate Christian Lucatero, Escalante is at RGV FC on loan and doesn’t count against the Dynamo’s international roster slots. Since Houston now has a full complement of international players, with the acquisition of young DP Tomas Martinez earlier this week, I suspect this means Escalante will be with the Toros for the remainder of the year. Neither Escalante or Lucatero have been as impactful as Dynamo/Toro fans in general would like to see at RGV.  Escalante has played significant minutes in 11 games but only has 1 goal and 0 assists.  He has shown glimpses, making 8 key passes that have not been finished and almost scoring a blistering goal from long distance in Oklahoma that would have been a strong contender for USL Goal of the Year if it had gone in. Lucatero, on the other hand doesn’t get on the field very often.  He has only played 180 minutes so far this year with 0 goals, but he is still very young and being brought along at a pace the Dynamo and Toro head coach Junior Gonzalez must feel is appropriate. Patience is required.  That said, more should be expected from both of these highly regarded future Dynamo players and I hope we see it in the second half.

Playoff Possibilities:  

8 teams qualify for the playoffs in the Western Conference.  As was proven last year, what happens after the USL playoffs start is a roll of the dice.  The top three seeds, including RGV FC, lost opening round games in 2016, leaving 4th seed Swope Park a clear path to the USL Championship game. Whether the Toros will now begin to make a run into the playoffs is an open question.  The team is only 2 points out of the 8th playoff slot, but also only 5 points from 14th place.

Real Monarchs, SAFC and Swope Park appear to be well on their way to securing the top 3 slots in the West.  Only Portland Timbers 2 appear to be completely out of the running for the playoffs.  Otherwise the remaining 11 Western Conference teams are separated by only 11 points.  The math for the remaining 5 slots is complicated by the fact that the number of games played so far by playoff hopefuls ranges from 12, earlier highlighted for Orange County, to 19.  On a points per game basis, RGV FC would be in the playoffs, but the games have to be played and results achieved.

It is hard to tell what we will see out of the Toros for the remainder of the year because the team has been so inconsistent.  The attendance has been excellent this year in the beautiful new stadium.   Hopefully a run to the playoffs will galvanize even more support in the Valley for this new team.   My earlier article (with a number of photos) detailing my visit to the new stadium is in the link below:

https://txsoccerjournal.com/2017/04/01/the-best-division-2-soccer-stadium-in-the-united-states/

This is about the time of the season when the Toros went 8 consecutive games without allowing a goal last year.  Now would be the time to get this rolling again if the playoffs are to happen.

Below is a link to RGV FC’s Midseason Marks by Carson Merk in the The Bull and Its Horns on SB Nation’s Dynamo Theory site.  Carson covers the team on a routine basis as closely as anybody else and is a good source of Toros knowledge.

https://www.dynamotheory.com/2017/7/12/15950308/the-bull-its-horns-midseason-marks-rgvfc

Premier Development League (PDL) Texas Week 11 Recap

The initial PDL season for the four first year Texas USL PDL teams came to an end Saturday night.  At the end of the journey, none of the teams were able to finish in the top two slots in the Mid-South Division and advance to the playoffs.  The experience of the two returning teams, OKC Energy U23 and Mississippi Brilla, was too difficult for the Lone Star clubs to overcome. Over the course of the season the two playoff qualifiers were a combined 18-1-1 against the Texas teams, the lone victory coming from FC Cleburne when they beat Brilla back in early June.  Brazos Valley won the unofficial PDL Texas Derby with 19 points, finishing 3 points ahead of Texas United.

PDL News:

Patricio Botello and Avery Ryan from Texas United were named Honorable Mention in the Week 10 PDL Team of the Week.

http://www.uslpdl.com/news_article/show/812933?referrer_id=2242498

Week 11 Game Results:

Wednesday, July 12

Mississippi Brilla-5    Texas United-1

Mississippi Brilla scored four first half goals, including two in the first ten minutes, and never looked back as they defeated Texas United 7-1 in Clinton.  The only United goal was scored by Avery Ryan in the 34th minute who capitalized on miscommunication between the defender and goalkeeper, off an assist from Francisco Vasquez.  Brilla scored all seven goals in 68 minutes.  The link below is the game story from the Brilla website:

https://brillasoccer.org/blogs/news/goalfest-puts-brilla-in-seventh-heaven

Game photo:  (Brilla Twitter)

Thursday, July 13

FC Cleburne-1   Houston FC-1

Two first half goals, one apiece for each side, resulted in a 1-1 draw between Houston FC and home team FC Cleburne at The Depot.  Jason Diaz opened the scoring for Cleburne in the 26th minute.  A 40th minute deflected shot from midfielder Thomas Hollis ended up in the back of the net for an own goal, allowing Houston to tie up the match before halftime. This was the final match of the season for Houston FC in their inaugural PDL season.

Houston FC Starting Lineup:  (Houston FC Twitter)

Saturday, July 15

FC Cleburne-4    Brazos Valley Cavalry-1

It wasn’t as exciting as the 9-goal July 4th extravaganza when FC Cleburne beat the Cavalry 5-4, but there was plenty of scoring in this one too as Cleburne won for the second time against Brazos Valley in 11 days 4-1 at The Depot.  Carlos Flores opened the scoring for Cleburne in the 40th minute and like last time it went into the halftime break at 1-0.  After goal scoring machine Elochukwu Ozumba (9 goals in 9 games) scored to level the match in the 49th minute, FC Cleburne answered with 3 goals by Daniel MooreJason Diaz and Mostafa Kamal to put the game out of reach.  Brazos Valley finished the season on a down note, losing their final 3 games after still being in playoff contention until near the end of the season.

Final FC Cleburne team photo (FC Cleburne Facebook)

Image may contain: 12 people, people smiling, outdoor

Brazos Valley Cavalry Team Photo:  (BV Cavalry Twitter)

Texas United-0    OKC Energy U23-1

With little to play for against the first place OKC Energy U23’s, Texas United put up a stiff fight in Grand Prairie in the final game of the season.  A 56th minute goal by OKC’s William Roberts, his fourth of the season, was all that separated the two sides on the evening.  OKC rested some of their starters, for example their top player Julio Moncada only played 12 minutes, but it was a inspired performance by United to finish up the season, especially after having to play shorthanded when Flavio Guzman was ejected from the match in the 72nd minute.

Texas United team photo:  (Texas United Twitter)

END OF REGULAR SEASON

FINAL REGULAR SEASON STANDINGS:

Southern Conference/Mid-South Division:

OKC Energy:              12-1-1    37 Points      +29 Goal Differential

Mississippi Brilla:      9-2-3      30 Points     +14 GD

Brazos Valley:             6-7-1      19 Points      -2   GD

Texas United:              5-8-1      16 Points      -1   GD

FC Cleburne:               4-9-1      13 Points      -17 GD

Houston FC:                2-10-2      8 Points      -21 GD


PDL logo courtesy of ChrisCreamer’sSportsLogos.Net

http://www.sportslogos.net/index.php

Midland-Odessa advances in NPSL Playoffs

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Midland-Odessa FC Sockers (MOFC) advanced to the NPSL South Region semifinals after defeating Shreveport Rafters FC 2-1 last night in the Lonestar Conference finals at Grand Communications Stadium in Midland.

The second goal came from a penalty kick in extra-time that was awarded as a result of a handball in the box in the third minute of added extra-time. Midfielder Isaac Sanchez, who rejoined the team earlier this week, converted the penalty that eventually ended up as the game winner.  In the game story in the Midland Reporter-Telegram by Will Korn, Sanchez described his feelings about his contribution to the victory:

“I really wanted to take (the penalty shot) and I was confident and thank God it went in,” Sanchez said. “The keeper was close, but this organization has given me a lot in the past three or four years and this is the way I wanted to give back. It was really special and I’m really humbled. I know a lot of guys are fighting for a place to be here and for me to be called up at the last minute, it means a lot.”

After a scoreless first half, the start of which was delayed 30 minutes by the referees late arrival, MOFC’s Ricardo Palomino opened the scoring in the 51st minute off an assist by Midland-native Darius Strambler.  The Rafters Che Walcott scored on a breakaway in the 79th minute to tie the game before the dramatic extra-time winner.

Midland-Odessa now travel to Wichita next Saturday at 7:15 p.m. to play one-loss Wichita FC at Stryker Soccer Complex.   Wichita defeated Tulsa Athletic 5-1 in Kansas last night to win the Heartland Conference championship.  The winner of that game will play the winner of the Miami Fusion FC vs. Inter Nashville FC game in the South Region Final at the site of the highest remaining seed on July 29.

The link to the Midland Reporter-Telegram’s story by Will Korn (@Will_MRT) is below:

http://www.mrt.com/sports/article/NPSL-MOFC-holds-on-to-beat-Shreveport-in-OT-11291785.php

NPSL logo courtesy of ChrisCreamer’sSportsLogos.Net

http://www.sportslogos.net/index.php

NPSL First Round Playoffs

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Soccer playoffs are, take your pick, a roll of the dice, a crap shoot, a roller coaster or any other like description one can imagine.  We had ample evidence of this in the United Soccer League (USL) Western Conference last year when the #4 seeded Swope Park Rangers made it all the way to USL Cup.  Because the top 3 western seeds, including Rio Grande Valley FC, lost in the opening round, Swope Park not only became the top remaining seed but was the beneficiary of two unexpected additional home matches against the 8th and 6th seeded western teams.

Lonestar Conference:

Last night in the Lonestar Conference of the NPSL, essentially the same scenario transpired as the two top seeds lost first round games and Midland-Odessa Sockers now are the beneficiary of an unexpected home match against Shreveport Rafters, who will have plenty of time to think about the task at hand on its 500+ mile and 8 hour trip to West Texas for Saturday night’s Lonestar Conference final.

Ft. Worth Vaqueros-2    Shreveport Rafters-3

After playing two games over the weekend and taking a 2-0 lead into the halftime break, the Vaqueros essentially ran out of gas and allowed 3 unanswered Rafters goals in the second half, including the game winner in added extra-time.

Here are two links, first, the game results on the Vaqueros website and, second, a story in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that discussed the impact the winning season has had on the fan base and the continuing search to find an appropriate soccer venue in the area:

http://www.fortworthvaqueros.com/news_article/show/813182?referrer_id=3277387

http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/mls/article161094509.html

Dutch Lions FC (HDLFC)-1    Midland-Odessa FC (MOFC)-3

MOFC scored two shock goals in the first three minutes and went on to win 3-1 against Dutch Lions FC in Conroe last night.  Apparently the 9-hour bus ride from Midland to the northern Houston suburbs was not enough to slow the Sockers down, as Ricardo Palomino and Jamie O’Grady came out of the starting blocks flying and scored enough goals to eventually win the match before the game had time to settle in.

After the match head coach Matt Barnes discussed the fast start in the match summary article in oaoa.com:

“It wasn’t something that I expected but we wanted to come out and punch them in the chin,” Midland-Odessa FC head coach Matt Barnes said about his team’s start. “All week we’ve been talking about getting off to a good start. The guys were absolutely clinical in front of net.” 

Below is the link to the OAOA game story:

http://www.oaoa.com/sports/local/franchise/sockers/article_6fa5f3a4-677a-11e7-b53b-63388d047e74.html

Heartland Conference:

FC Wichita-3    Dallas City FC-2

Things held to form in the Heartland Conference as one loss-#1 seeded FC Wichita held off a determined Dallas City FC side for a 3-2 win last night. Dallas City experienced quite an interesting last few weeks.  Travel all over the Midwest to play “home games”, end of game controversies that resulted in multiple ejections and the need to play a postponed game last Sunday while their opponents were resting.  Nevertheless, it took an 86th minute goal by Wichita to finally subdue Dallas City.  Unfortunately, on the game winning goal Dallas City’s Mikey Paniagua fractured tibia and fibula. According to the game story on Wichita’s website his injury necessitated a 45-minute delay and required an ambulance to transport him to a nearby hospital.  You Tube videos were posted of the Kansas crowd chanting Mikey’s name as he was stretchered off the field.

Dallas FC will be disappointed in the final game result, but the season can be considered an overall success for a team that stepped in as a replacement for Dallas area club Liverpool Warriors and did not put a roster together until a few weeks before the season.

Here is a link to the game story on FC Wichita’s website:

http://www.fcwichita.com/2017/07/fc-wichita-advances-in-heartland-conference-playoffs/

Conference Finals/South Region with TX teams:

Lonestar Conference:

Midland-Odessa FC vs. Shreveport Rafters-7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 15, 2017-Grande Communications Stadium, Midland, TX

Heartland Conference:  

Wichita FC vs. Tulsa Athletic-7:15 p.m., Saturday, July 15, 2017-Stryker Soccer Complex, Wichita, KS

NPSL logo courtesy of ChrisCreamer’sSportsLogos.Net

http://www.sportslogos.net/index.php

National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) Texas Week 10 Recap/Playoff Preview

The NPSL South Region first-round playoffs are set.  Ft. Worth Vaqueros, on the heels of two wins this week and a Dutch Lions FC draw in Shreveport, were able to jump the table from third to first and are the Lonestar Conference regular season champions.

Wednesday night the Vaqueros will play their first ever home playoff game at Martin Field against Shreveport Rafters.  In the other first round Lonestar Conference match Dutch Lions FC will host Midland-Odessa FC in Conroe, also on Wednesday night.

In the Heartland Conference, Dallas FC, forced to play two games in 24 hours last weekend including a makeup “home” match in Springfield, MO, travels to Wichita for the second time in less than a week to play a first round Heartland Conference playoff game against FC Wichita.

The winners of both the Lonestar and Heartland Conference first round playoff games will meet in the finals at the highest remaining seed on Saturday.

Further playoff details are provided in the link below

http://www.npsl.com/playoffs

NPSL News:

Three Vaquero teammates will be attending Tulsa University next year.

http://www.fortworthvaqueros.com/news_article/show/810852

Week 10 Game Results:

Friday, July 7

Midland-Odessa FC (MOFC)-5    Tyler FC-1

James O’Grady scored a first half hat trick in an astonishing 15 minutes to lead MOFC to a 5-1 blowout victory against winless Tyler FC in Midland. Additional second half goals were scored by Henrik Mueller and Darius Strambler to complete the rout.  The lone Tyler FC goal was scored by Tony Bravo.

In the match report from Midland Reporter-Telegram’s Will Korn, MOFC head coach Matt Barnes was obviously pleased with the outcome:

“It’s exactly what we wanted,” Barnes said. “I was hoping we could come out (Friday) and put a full game together, a full 90 (minutes). It’s the first time we’ve done it the entire season, so for me it was really rewarding to see the guys come out (like they did). We moved the ball well (Friday), defended well and Jamie was incredible in the first half with the hat trick.”

Game reports from Midland media are in the links below:

http://www.cbs7.com/content/sports/Mid-433231703.html

http://www.mrt.com/sports/article/NPSL-Midland-Odessa-FC-rolls-behind-O-Grady-11274270.php?cmpid=twitter-desktop

Saturday, July 8

Shreveport Rafters FC-1    Dutch Lions FC (HDLFC)-1

Shreveport Rafters FC Steven Bush’s goal in the 76th minute helped secure a trip to the NPSL playoffs for his club when it tied Dutch Lions FC 1-1 in Shreveport.  HDLFC had taken a lead 5 minutes earlier when Matheus Goveia scored to give Dutch Lions the lead, and temporarily put them on track to win the Lonestar Conference.  The Dutch Lions were somewhat unfortunate to be only level at halftime as they generated 12 shots and hit the woodwork twice according to accounts on HDLFC’s Twitter feed.

Halftime photo showing part of a crowd of 2,400 in Shreveport (Rafters FC Twitter)

FC Wichita-3    Dallas City FC-0

FC Wichita closed out the regular season in style, defeating Dallas City FC 3-0 at Stryker Soccer Complex in Wichita.  Diego Serfaty’s 5 minute header was all that was needed to send Wichita into the post-season on a four game winning streak.

Home Crowd in Wichita before match:  (FC Wichita Twitter)

Ft. Worth Vaqueros-4    Houston Regals SCA-0

Ft. Worth put themselves in the drivers seat to win the Lonestar Conference championship when they defeated Regals SCA 4-0 in Ft. Worth in a game delayed multiple times due to weather.  A first half goal by Bobby Edet put the Vaqueros ahead at the half and three second half goals, by Jesse Miralrio, Hilton Ngwa and Matthew Rochowski blew the game wide open. The Regals played shorthanded from the 68th minute when Rolando Matute was ejected from the match for abusive language or gestures.  Regals SCA needed to win and for Dutch Lions FC to win in Shreveport to secure a playoff spot.  Neither happened, so Houston finished their season Saturday night.

Photo from Martin Field:  (Fort Worth Vaqueros Twitter)


Sunday, July 9
  

Dallas City FC-2   Demize NPSL-5        (Makeup game from June 10)

After making a 250 mile trip from Wichita to Springfield, MO, and playing the second match in less than 24 hours, Dallas City FC certainly can be excused for a slow start. Unfortunately, Demize NPSL took advantage of the road weary by scoring 4 times in the first 25 minutes, leading to an eventual 5-2 win Sunday.  Dallas City rebounded a bit when Papa Abdoulaye Faly and Hulver Sanchez scored first half goals, but were never able to catch up with, what must have been, tired legs.  A link to the game story in the Joplin Globe is below:

http://www.joplinglobe.com/sports/local_sports/demize-npsl-soccer-team-ends-season-with-win-over-dallas/article_67e7a4ed-9cbe-5f91-8022-5813f1016d02.html

FC Tyler-0    Ft. Worth Vaqueros-1      (Makeup game from June 24)

The Vaqueros completed an improbable leap up the standings this week and ended up as Lonestar Regular Season Division Champions when it was over. Kristian Quintana’s 28th minute goal was all that was needed to win the game and capture the Division crown. The day started out with good news for the Vaqueros as they ended up playing in Ft. Worth instead of traveling to East Texas for the Tyler FC makeup home game.  According to the Vaqueros website, unplayable field conditions in Tyler necessitated the change in venue.  At least that is what is to be surmised, because Tyler FC provided no explanation on their website or social media as to why the final home match had been switched to Ft. Worth.  After the match Vaqueros head coach Nick Stavrou commented on the Vaqueros website:

“The team is heading into the playoffs on a high after securing first place in the regular season. With three wins on the bounce we hope to carry that momentum into a very tough game against a dogged Shreveport team,” coach Nick Stavrou said. “We are hoping the home field advantage of our 12th man will help carry the boys through as the intensity turns up as it is now playoffs time.”

Lonestar Conference Regular Season Champion Ft. Worth Vaqueros (Vaqueros Twitter)

FINAL REGULAR SEASON STANDINGS:

South Conference -Lonestar Division

Rank Lone Star Conference Division GP W L T Pts GF GA GD Pts/GP
1 Fort Worth Vaqueros 10 7 2 1 22 17 8 9 2.2
2 Midland-Odessa FC 10 7 3 0 21 24 12 12 2.1
3 Dutch Lions FC 10 6 1 3 21 27 18 9 2.1
4 Shreveport Rafters FC 10 3 5 2 11 14 14 0 1.1
5 Houston Regals SCA 10 2 6 2 8 11 21 -10 0.8
6 Tyler FC 10 0 8 2 2 6 26 -20 0.2

 

South Conference-Heartland Division

Rank Heartland Conference Division GP W L T Pts GF GA GD Pts/GP
1 FC Wichita 10 8 1 1 25 27 11 16 2.5
2 Tulsa Athletic 10 5 4 1 16 25 16 9 1.6
3 Little Rock Rangers 10 4 2 4 16 17 14 3 1.6
4 Dallas City FC 10 4 5 1 13 16 18 -2 1.3
5 Demize NPSL 10 3 6 1 10 18 20 -2 1
6 Ozark FC 10 2 8 0 6 12 36 -24 0.6


First Round Playoff Game Schedule:

Ft. Worth Vaqueros vs. Shreveport Rafters-7:30 p.m.-Wednesday, July 12-Martin Field, Ft. Worth

Dutch Lions FC vs. Midland-Odessa FC-7:00 p.m.-Wednesday, July 12-HDLFC Soccer Facility, Conroe

 

NPSL logo courtesy of ChrisCreamer’sSportsLogos.Net

http://www.sportslogos.net/index.php

Premier Development League (PDL) Texas Week 10 Recap/Week 11 Preview (UPDATED)

Any chance for a Texas team to finish in the top two of the Mid-South Division and advance to the PDL playoffs ended Saturday night when Brazos Valley lost to Mississippi Brilla. Despite the turnover in PDL rosters each year, the out-of-state returning teams, appeared to have a distinct advantage on the first year Texas sides and both qualified for the playoffs. OKC Energy and Brilla together lost only one match against a Texas team this year, when Brilla fell to FC Cleburne 2-0 back in early June.

The race to determine the best first year Texas team is still on.  The Cavalry are 3 points ahead of Texas United, but United has a game in hand.  Brazos Valley returns to the scene of the July 4 shootout in Cleburne this Saturday, where the two teams combined for 9 goals in a 5-4 Cleburne win.  Texas United has two games remaining, but a tough road to hoe, as they play against Brilla away and are home to OKC Energy U23.

PDL News:

Brazos Valley played their first international friendly this week against FC Monterrey Rayados U20’s and came out a 2-1 winner.  Here is a link to the game story on the Cavalry website.

http://www.bvcavalryfc.com/news/?article_id=26

Week 10 Game Results:

Tuesday, July 4

FC Cleburne-5   Brazos Valley Cavalry-4

A true Fourth of July fireworks display rolled out at The Depot in Cleburne on Tuesday. Behind a Anthony Powell 33rd minute goal, FC Cleburne went into halftime with a quiet 1-0 lead.  The second half was a completely different story…..8 goals later, Cleburne came out on top of a 5-4 victory over Brazos Valley.  Powell scored two more goals, including the eventual game winner, to complete his hat trick and run his season total to 5 goals. Additional goals by Julian Sanchez and Stefan Lukic completed the FC Cleburne bonanza. Wrapped around these goals were the four scored by the Cavalry that certainly kept the game interesting.  Two by Aneikan William, the seemingly weekly goal by Elochukwu Ozumba (his 8th in 7 games) and Christian Molina were just short of what was needed to get a result to aid in the chase for the playoffs.  The Cavalry will rue missed opportunites as it was unable to capitalize on a 16-10 shots advantage and 13 corner kicks.

FC Cleburne hat-trick scorer Anthony Powell:  (FC Cleburne Twitter)

Thursday, July 6

Houston FC-1    Mississippi Brilla-2

An 86th minute goal by Mississippi Brilla’s Carlos Garces overcame a valiant Houston FC effort to score a comeback win 2-1 Thursday evening in Houston.  Garces also assisted on the first goal scored by defender Jordan Skelton.  The Houston FC goal was scored by UT Tyler midfielder Erik Sanchez in the 21st minute.  According to the USLPDL website, Houston goalkeeper Patrick Michael Hillyard was extraordinarily busy, making 13 saves.

Pregame photo from Holloway Field at Rice University with the Texas Medical Center as a backdrop:  (Houston FC website)

Saturday, July 8

Houston FC-1    Texas United-5

Two goals each, in the first ten minutes of the first half by Patricio Botello (from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio) and in a five minute span late in the second half by Nenad Markovic, led Texas United to a blowout victory at Strake Jesuit High School, Houston FC’s second home, in Houston. Giovanni MontesDeoca chipped in with the other goal on a long range shot for United midway through the first half.  Joshua Bronstorph scored the only goal on the night from Houston.  The start of the game, the final home game of Houston FC’s inaugural season, was delayed by lightning, which forced players off the field during warmups.

Brazos Valley Cavalry-0    Mississippi Brilla-1

Any hope Brazos Valley had of making the PDL playoffs in its first season came to an end when they dropped a 1-0 decision to Mississippi Brilla, who are currently on an 8 game unbeaten run, in Bryan Saturday night.  Thomas Vancaeyezeele second goal of the season in the 71st minute was all Brilla needed to clinch their playoff spot.  The Cavalry, shorthanded due to injuries and players returning to college, played a number of kids from the U16 Houston Dynamo Academy team last night.  In an interview with Glenn Davis a few weeks ago, Dynamo GM Matt Jordan mentioned that one of the main purposes of the PDL side was to give minutes to young Academy players who have demonstrated the ability to play at that level.

In the game summary by Richard Croome in the Bryan Eagle, Cavalry head coach discussed the reality of needing to beat the teams ahead of them in the standings to get into the playoffs:

“The biggest disappointment for me is we lost to these guys three times,” Cavalry coach James Clarkson said. “We can’t complain, the two teams above us we haven’t taken a point off of them. That is really disappointing because we are much better than that, so [we need to move] onward and keep fighting.” 

The link to the game story in the Bryan Eagle is below:

http://www.theeagle.com/brazos_sports/bv-cavalry-fc-eliminated-from-playoff-picture-with–/article_d0a9e386-6464-11e7-9d89-bbc4fd1a07e5.html

Sunday, July 9

OKC Energy U23-6    FC Cleburne-0

OKC Energy U23 is very good to say the least.  The Energy are one game away (vs. Texas United this weekend) from sweeping all 11 regular season games it will play against Texas teams this year.  Sunday night, Julio Moncada, number 13 on the PDL Top 50 Prospects list, scored a hat trick and assisted on a fourth goal to lead OKC to a 6-0 blowout of FC Cleburne in Edmond, Oklahoma.  Moncada, a Honduran who attends UNC Wilmington, now has scored 11 goals, two behind the league leader.  FC Cleburne goalkeeper Casey Tilley had his work cut out for him as Cleburne was outshot 21-7 on the afternoon.

Julio Moncada (OKC Energy U23 Twitter)

The game story from the Energy website can be found in the link below:

http://www.energyfc.com/news_article/show/811750?referrer_id=2614758

STANDINGS:

Southern Conference/Mid-South Division:

Team GP W L T PTS GF GA +/-
OKC Energy U23 13 11 1 1 34 38 10 28
Mississippi Brilla FC 13 8 2 3 27 19 9 10
Brazos Valley Cavalry F.C. 13 6 6 1 19 29 28 1
Texas United 12 5 6 1 16 26 22 4
FC Cleburne 12 3 9 0 9 19 39 -20
Houston FC 13 2 10 1 7 13 34 -21

 

Week 11 Game Schedule: (Home Team Listed First)

Wednesday, July 12

Mississippi Brilla vs. Texas United

Thursday, July 13

FC Cleburne vs. Houston FC

Saturday, July 15

FC Cleburne vs. Brazos Valley Cavalry

Texas United vs. OKC Energy U23

END OF REGULAR SEASON

 

PDL logo courtesy of ChrisCreamer’sSportsLogos.Net

http://www.sportslogos.net/index.php

Around the World of Soccer

Best Quotes this Week:

“I don’t know if you realize just how much this means to the players, to U.S. soccer and to me. I remember the days when the support was less than what it is today. And your support does make a difference.”

Bruce Arena, who briefly spoke at the American Outlaws tailgate party in Nashville Friday night ahead of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup opener against Panama  (The Tennessean)

“In training when there was a ball I couldn’t control well, I’d hand it over to be played as if I’d lost it.”

There is constant discussion about how the United States always looks to South America for creative “Number 10” center-midfielders because we haven’t been able to develop them ourselves.  Argentinian Mauro Diaz runs the show at FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo are supposedly close to announcing an Argentine center-midfielder of their own.  If US youth soccer can find a way to develop players with this mentality it might be a good start.

Interview with legendary Argentinian midfielder Juan Román Riquelme (Pagina 12-translation from Montreal journalist @RoyNemer.

Best article discovered from outside of The Republic this week:

With numerous LigaMX clubs criss-crossing Texas this month prior to the start of the Apertura regular season on July 21 and dual-national FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez throwing his lot in with the USMNT, this is a timely long-form article discussing player development in Mexico.

http://thesefootballtimes.co/2017/06/20/turning-mexico-into-a-global-football-superpower-through-player-development/