Michael Salazar scores a brace to lead the Toros past San Antonio FC 3-1
Edinburg, Tx – RGVFC humiliated San Antonio FC in the 11th official South Texas Derby last night at H-E-B Park. The Toros were looking to return back on course at home after losing the lead against LA Galaxy II in stoppage time last week.
This week, however, was a crucial match for the Toros in their quest for a playoff spot in the USL Championship Western Conference. With the difference between second place and 15th place only 5 points, it continues to be imperative for the team to not lose points, especially at home.
Also, with Copa Tejas, a supporters group sanctioned cup, it adds another piece of possible silverware for the team to win, along with bragging rights in Texas.
More importantly, a win in this South Texas Derby would help continue RGVFC’s paternity over San Antonio. Coming into this match, the Toros held a slim lead with 4 wins, 3 losses, and 3 draws with their last victory over SAFC coming in 2017 at Toyota Field.
RGVFC began pressuring San Antonio FC in the midfield, looking to catch the defenders off guard in transition on the counterattack.
It was in the 20th minute when RGVFC had their first clear chance on goal. Isidro Martinez steals the ball away from Cristian Parano and opens the play to Jesus Enriquez. Enriquez dribbles the ball into the box and returns the ball to Martinez, who tries to find Enriquez again, but the ball bounces between Enriquez and a couple of San Antonio defenders before reaching Michael Salazar. Salazar, seeing that Matt Cardone was off of his line, sends a chipped shot towards goal, but Kai Greene clears it off the line for a corner kick.
RGVFC found the opening goal in the 30th minute. Jesus Enriquez opens up the play towards Robert Coronado near the corner flag. Facing no opposition, he passes the ball back to Enriquez, who takes a shot that finds its way between two San Antonio defenders into the goal at the far post.
“I saw Robert (Coronado), he overlapped me, and he has this thing that he acts like he’s going to cross it and just plays it right back to you. I gave it to him, I stayed, and I knew it was going to come to me. I saw the goalie a little bit towards the first post, so I shot it to the second.”Jesus Enriquez – RGVFC midfielder
The Toros did not settle for the one goal lead and continued to put pressure on San Antonio looking for the second goal of the night.
In the 36th minute, RGVFC find the second goal of the night with Michael Salazar, who takes advantage of Lance Laing’s lack of hustle, to receive Romilio Hernandez’s through ball and be one on one against Matt Cardone. Salazar did not forgive San Antonio’s laziness and slots the ball past Cardone.
As the second half went on, San Antonio found themselves pushing up their defenders looking to score the goal that would cut the lead in half. In doing so, they would become vulnerable to the counters with Michael Salazar and Maalique Foster.
These players would make San Antonio pay for their carelessness in the 57th minute. After San Antonio loses the ball in RGVFC’s box, Maalique Foster and Michael Salazar combine in the buildup that places Foster in wide open space, leaving Lance Laing behind in the dust. As he enters the box, Foster passes the ball back to Michael Salazar, who dribbles past Matt Cardone and sends the ball to the back of the net.
With this brace, Michael Salazar scores his 7th goal this season with the Toros, tying with Ruben Luna and Kyle Murphy with the most goals scored in a season. Not only has he been able to score goals, but the influence of his experience in the growth of the rest of the team has been notorious since he arrived.
“I just want to thank my teammates, (and) the coaching staff. They give me the freedom to be myself out there. I am one of the older players here, so I have to set the example for these guys. They gave me space and time to make my runs and pick the right moment and I was at the right place and the right time.”Michael Salazar – RGVFC forward
San Antonio would eventually find a goal in the 70th minute scored by Ever Guzman, but it was too little, too late for the visitors.
RGVFC would win the game against their bitter rivals to place them in 9th place with 16 points, one point behind 8th placed El Paso Locomotive for a playoff spot. This would also be their first win against San Antonio FC at H-E-B Park.
This win also places the Toros tied for the lead for Copa Tejas with El Paso with 4 points in 2 games.
Coach Gerson Echeverry was pleased with the team’s performance, but he recognized that there is some room for improvement if they want to battle for the top spots.
“It’s important to get those three points at home. It’s important to distance ourselves and start catching up to some of the teams that are above us. It was a very, very difficult match. It was a good match and we were able to score more. It would have been nice to have gotten a couple more, but I’m extremely happy with the team’s performance.”Gerson Echeverry – RGVFC Head Coach
RGVFC will be going on the road against Orange County SC next Saturday and against Real Monarchs the week after. They return to play against Colorado Springs Switchbacks on June 15th.