Last night Rio Grande Valley Toros (RGVFC) officially opened their new H-E-B Park Stadium in grand fashion with a sold-out exhibition game against Monterrey FC Rayados of Mexico’s LigaMX. Based on past experience watching Monterrey LigaMX teams playing in Houston it is not surprising that this game had a listed attendance of close to 10,000. Monterrey is only a little over 150 miles from Edinburg and there are a large number of U.S. residents from that region living in Texas.
This game also served as the wrap-up to RGVFC’s preseason schedule…one that included the first visit from the parent MLS club Houston Dynamo, a trip to Arizona for a number of RGVFC players to join the tournament champion Houston Dynamo at the Desert Diamond Cup and a friendly match against cross-border Mexican side Reynosa FC. What appears to be the starting lineup saw roughly an hour of action against the Rayados before being completely swapped-out. It also was a final chance for Toros head coach Junior Gonzalez to assess trialists before finalizing the regular season roster.
Monterrey won the match 3-0 score behind first half goals from Dorlan Pabon and Arturo Gonzalez and a 84th minute strike from Celso Ortiz. A comprehensive victory by Rayados was to be expected. Monterrey, one point out of first place so far in the 2017 LigaMX Clausura season, has a roster full of top players many of whom are likely, without specific data to back it up, to individually have higher salaries than the entire Toros roster. In 2012, after winning the CONCACAF Champions League, they advanced all the way to the Club World Cup semifinals where they lost to Barclay’s English Premier League side, Chelsea 3-1. Jokingly, there might have been a late night meeting at LigaMX Headquarters to relegate the Rayados to the second division immediately if they had lost last night! Regardless of the loss, this match certainly was excellent final preparation for the Toros prior to their USL season opener this Sunday against San Antonio FC (SAFC).
San Antonio FC also had a challenging finish to their preseason, falling 2-1 to the FC Dallas (FCD) Reserves last Sunday in Frisco. New signing Aly Alberto Hassan got on the scoreboard for SAFC in the 65th minute after FCD’s Michael Barrios (8th minute) and Tesho Akindele (30th) had scored in the first half to give Dallas a 2-0 lead. Given the depth of their squad, FC Dallas’s reserves, including players like Barrios and Akindele who did not play a full game for the first team Saturday night, provided an outstanding final preseason test for SAFC.
The season opener for both USL teams is Sunday night at 6 p.m. at H-E-B Park in Edinburg.