Photo courtesy of Rio Grande Valley FC
EDINBURG, Texas – The Portland Timbers 2, already out of the postseason picture, battled for a 1-0 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday at Toro Stadium. RGV gained a berth to the 2016 USL Playoffs on Friday, but the Toros have higher hopes, including a potential Western Conference lead. A win would have put RGV into the top spot, but Portland’s Brent Richards tallied a 60th-minute goal and T2 ended the Toros’ 10-game unbeaten streak (6-0-4). Portland moves to 9-14-4 (31 points) overall and 3-9-1 on the road. RGV falls to 12-6-9 (45 points) overall and 6-3-5 at home. In the only other meeting of the season between these two sides, RGV earned its first victory of the season at the Timbers 2, posting a 2-0 victory at Merlo Field on April 8.
60’ – POR – Brent Richards
Three Things That Mattered:
1. With so many attacking options for both sides, it ended up being a defender who broke the stalemate Saturday. The Portland Timbers 2’s Brent Richards notched an unassisted goal in the 60th minute to give T2 the second-half lead. Richards’ initial right-footed shot was blocked, but the rebound deflected right back to him. This time he fired left-footed, a rolling shot that was out of RGV goalkeeper Callum Irving’s reach and snuck just inside the near right post for a 1-0 Portland advantage. It was Richards’ first goal of the season and also was T2’s first goal against the expansion Toros.
2. RGV suffered its first loss since a 2-1 defeat to Orange County Blues FC on June 26. It was a match in which the Toros ran into a Portland side that had nothing to lose and tried to step up in the moment. Even after the goal, when the Toros were trying to find an equalizer, T2 still tried to press forward. The 70th minute counterattack was a prime example. RGV’s Kevin Garcia had a header that was saved and Portland immediately sprung forward with Victor Arboleda working the ball in close. It took a big defensive effort from RGV to thwart T2’s scoring chance. Ultimately, it was Portland that played the more complete game.
3. The opening half was even both on the score sheet and in chances. Portland probably had one of the best looks of the opening 45 minutes with Neco Brett challenging RGV goalkeeper Callum Irving. In the 33rd minute, Brett send a bending shot toward the right corner of the frame, and Irving came up big with the stretching save to his left to keep Portland from tallying its first goal against the Toros.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Brent Richards, Portland Timbers 2 - Richards scored the game's lone goal and T2 held a RGV side that had been unbeaten in 10 straight.
Rio Grande Valley FC at LA Galaxy II – Sept. 14, 10:30 p.m. ET, StubHub Track & Field Stadium
Portland Timbers 2 at Arizona United SC – Sept. 13, 10:30 p.m. ET, Peoria Sports Complex