Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1   San Antonio FC (SAFC)-2    (Thunderbird Stadium-Vancouver, BC, Canada)

VAN:  Marco Bustos-45  SAFC:  Aly Hassan-22 (Billy Forbes), Billy Forbes-46

Billy Forbes is making his case for USL Best Eleven

If early season awards were handed out, Billy Forbes would be a lock for USL Team of the Year and a strong candidate for MVP.  Yesterday afternoon in Vancouver, Forbes continued his dominating season, assisting (3rd of the year) on the first goal and then capitalizing on a defensive error at the beginning of the second half for the game winner. Forbes now has scored four times in the first five games.

For the first time the woodwork let SAFC down

They say that the woodwork is the goalkeepers best friend and so far this season that has been the case for SAFC’s Matt Cardone.  Three times this year opponents shots have hit the woodwork and bounced out of danger. Unfortunately, the good fortune ran out yesterday on the goal scored by Whitecaps first-team loan player, Marco Bustos, near the end of the first half.  The post did its job by stopping the initial shot, but the rebound went straight to Bustos who then finished despite Cardone’s best efforts.

SAFC has a deep roster

Three road games in a week will tax any roster.  Coach Darren Powell made three changes to last week’s starting lineup against Reno yesterday, including replacing injured forward Cesar Elizando with Aly Hassan. Elizando’s early season scoring wasn’t missed as Hassan scored off a Forbes cross in the 22nd minute with a sliding finish. Devin Vega made his first USL start in place of Rafa Castillo and almost scored.  The depth was further challenged when Cardone went off injured in the 56th minute, but veteran Diego Restrepo stepped in and saw the game out.  The team depth was fortified last week when Haitian midfielder Zachary Herivaux was acquired on loan from the New England Revolution.

San Antonio FC will return to action on Tuesday, April 25 as it visits Seattle Sounders FC 2 in the second game of its Pacific Northwest trip.

Rio Grande Valley FC (RGV FC) Toros-0   Tulsa Roughnecks-1    (H-E-B Park-Edinburg)

RGV:  None  TUL:  Jamie Ayala-52 (Modou Jamama)

Where are the goals coming from?

RGV FC were shut out for the third time this season….the second time at home.  So far this year, one goal has been scored from the run of play by a player on their official roster.  Yet again, they fell behind, then furiously dominated play, made numerous assaults on the Tulsa goal and came up empty.  In the single-forward system played by the Toros, it is difficult to pin the sole responsibility for the goal drought on Ruben Luna. In this system the prime role of the forward is to hold the ball so the midfielders can join in the attack. Memo Rodriquez did his part, scoring twice, when he was loaned to the Toros for the Colorado Springs game.  Since he was on the bench in Houston yesterday, others needed to step up and this didn’t happen.  The most dangerous Toros player this year has been Camilo Monroy, who was not on the game-day roster yesterday.  Tulsa’s Jamie Ayala game winning goal could have been handled better defensively and Toros coach Junior Gonzalez mentioned this in his post-game comments.  Ayala’s long range strike was excellent, though, and those kinds of goals are going to happen.  You can’t shut out the other team every night.  So unless the Toros figure out where the goals are coming from, this will be a long season.

Joe Holland makes debut

Last week, after seeing San Jose midfielder Jackson Yueill play in San Antonio, I wondered when and if Dynamo first-round MLS Super Draft pick Joe Holland would make his debut for either Houston or Rio Grande Valley. Apparently, Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera read my article (sure!), because Holland made his debut and played 68 minutes last night.  He didn’t have a major impact, partially because of an apparent leg injury suffered in the first half, but created one chance and completed far more passes than not. His introduction into the starting lineup did seem to push Eric Bird back into a deeper-lying position and I am not sure what kind of impact this had on the game flow. The other Dynamo loan players, Christian Lucatero and Jose Escalante also had little impact on the game.  Lucatero was making his first start of the year.  Escalante has been somewhat unlucky (hit the crossbar on a free kick last night), but he has not had anywhere near the impact he had on the Toros last year.  We need to start seeing the intensity he showed, after going down a goal last night, from the first minute.  Which leads to…..

Play from the first minute and adapt as the game unwinds

In an article by Greg Luca in The Monitor, Ivan Maghalhaes talked about the early game challenges last night.

“I think we didn’t come out with the mentality to win.  I think they came out harder than us. That’s just unacceptable. We have to step up, because we’re playing at home, and those three points, we’re going to miss them later in the season.”

He also talked about adjustments to the opponents tactical plans.

“We like to play as a team to possess the ball, but they scouted us, so they knew our strength already,” Magalhaes said. “They didn’t let us play from the back. They were doing their job correctly. It was up to us to adapt and do a better job, but we couldn’t.”  

Toros head coach Junior Gonzalez should look in the mirror after this performance to determine why these things happened and figure out how to better prepare the team too.

RGV FC plays its third of five straight home games next Saturday against OKC Energy.