Photo courtesy of Rio Grande Valley FC
EDINBURG, Texas – OKC Energy FC found goals difficult to come by all season, and specifically against first-year side Rio Grande Valley FC. Energy FC second-half sub Collin Bonner didn’t get the message as he tallied two stoppage-time goals to rally seventh-seeded OKC to a dramatic 3-2 victory against second-seeded RGV on Saturday in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs at Toro Stadium. Linus Olsson scored OKC’s other goal. For the Toros, Ruben Luna scored a first-half goal and Eric Bird found a 75th-minute go-ahead score. OKC will now travel to face No. 6 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on Saturday, Oct. 8 (3 p.m. ET) in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Three Things That Mattered:
1. OKC Coach Jimmy Nielsen made it abundantly clear regarding the performance of the starting front line when he subbed out both Danni Konig and Andy Craven with Wojciech Wojcik and Colin Bonner for the remaining 20 minutes. Bonner had a final stretch that any player would dream of, finding the equalizer off of Michael Harris’ flip throw-in from midfield to tie the score at 2-2. Then OKC garnered a late corner kick chance and Bonner headed it toward the inside of the near right post. RGV goalkeeper Devin Perales tipped it, but the shot had plenty of pace and he was unable to parry it away as Energy FC snagged the road victory to move onto the Western Conference Semifinals.
2. Though in a losing effort, the Toros’ scores were of the highest caliber in each half, giving them one-goal leads on both occasions. Memo Rodriguez had a strong first half and provided the buildup to Ruben Luna in the 33rd minute, as Luna’s strike eluded onrushing OKC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi, caromed off of the inside of the right post and over the goal line. The other RGV score was from Eric Bird, who flicked the ball up to himself and volleyed it into the left of the frame in the 75th minute to gain a 2-1 advantage.
3. RGV went through a match that could prove to be a useful tool for the organization moving forward. The Toros were in complete control of the match but allowed a second-half OKC equalizer and of course Bonner’s stoppage-time goals. When RGV needs a wake-up call or is put to a test, the roster showed that it had the talent to produce. RGV’s conference quarterfinals should have been a moment where the Toros put multiple goals away and put the match out of reach. Yet the Toros allowed OKC to have some striking distance, and it doomed RGV down the stretch and ended a season that overall was an incredibly successful one.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Colin Bonner, OKC Energy FC – Bonner tallied two stoppage-time goals to lead Energy FC past RGV and into the conference semifinals.
Rio Grande Valley FC – End of Season
OKC Energy FC: Western Conference Quarterfinals at No. 6 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – Oct. 8, 3 p.m. ET, Thunderbird Stadium
33’ – RGV – Ruben Luna (Memo Rodriguez)
72’ – OKC – Linus Olsson (Michael Thomas)
75’ – RGV – Eric Bird
90’+ – OKC – Colin Bonner (Michael Harris)
90’+ – OKC – Colin Bonner (Luis Martinez)
RGV: 1-Devin Perales; 2-Kevin Garcia, 5-Ivan Magalhaes, 15-Kai Greene, 8-Charlie Ward; 10-Eric Bird, 13-Emilio Garcia (6-Jorginho James, 66’), 3-Taylor Hunter; 7-Memo Rodriguez (17-T.J. Casner, 85’), 12-Ruben Luna (9-Dzenan Catic, 74’), 18-Kyle Murphy (36-Yair Arboleda, 69’)
OKC: 1-Cody Laurendi; 19-Michael Harris, 4-Cyprian Hedrick, 26-Coady Andrews, 22-Kalen Ryden; 12-Daniel Gonzalez (13-Linus Olsson, 59’), 8-Michael Thomas, 25-Michael Byskov (Luis Martinez, 86’), 3-Kyle Hyland (15-Timo Pitter, 59’); 30-Andy Craven (27-Colin Bonner, 69’), 9-Danni Konig (28-Wojciech Wojcik, 69’)
Venue: Toro Stadium