RGV FC Toros find scoring touch to beat Las Vegas Lights, snap winless streak

EDINBURG — RGV FC’s Kai Greene sent a cross in from the right wing, and Nicolas Perea deflected it into the Las Vegas Lights keeper. The rebound came back to Perea, and he fired it into the keeper again.

After the ball once more bounced back to Perea’s feet, he sent a cross toward the middle, where a Lights defender cleared it off the line. The Toros’ Wilmer Cabrera tracked down the loose ball and made a sliding attempt at a shot, which was also blocked by Las Vegas. This time, the clearance attempt came to RGV’s Conor Donovan, who unleashed a right-footed shot into the upper-left corner of the net from about 35 yards out.

RGV repeatedly knocked on the door in the first half before Donovan’s strike finally kicked it down. The Toros as a team followed the same formula, ending a streak of missed opportunities and disappointing outcomes with a 2-0 victory against the Lights on Saturday at H-E-B Park.

The win snaps RGV’s franchise-record 11-match winless streak, which dated back to April 25.

“It’s a huge weight off of our shoulders,” midfielder Jesus Enriquez said. “It feels good to finally get a win. Hopefully, everything shoots up from here.”

With the victory, RGV improves to 2-6-10 on the year. The Toros outshot the Lights 17-11, including 6-3 in shots on target, and held 57.8 percent of possession.

Those margins are hardly atypical for the Toros, who in recent weeks have expressed frustration at not being able to translate their statistical control of matches into wins.

“It feels great. It feels fantastic,” midfielder Pablo Aguilar said. “I think we put in a lot of effort in every game, and finally we got the result.”

RGV FC coach Gerson Echeverry said Saturday’s game mostly followed a familiar formula, but he did point to a few changes compared to previous matches.

For one, the Toros added an extra forward in certain stretches, Echeverry said. On Saturday, Jordan Jones made only his second start of the year at forward, while Wilmer Cabrera Jr. made his second start in the midfield.

“We needed to do something different,” Echeverry said. “They’ve been doing well in practice. They’ve been scoring goals in practice. So it was important to sometimes change. … When you change things around, it spices things up. And hopefully, that’s the beginning of it.”

Aguilar was starting for the 10th time, but in a slightly different role. He said RGV focused more players in the midfield rather than on the wing, and he personally took on more attacking responsibility, leading the team with five shots.

“That helps me, because I would consider myself as an attacking-minded player,” Aguilar said. “This change in formation has definitely helped me become more attacking minded and create more chances.”

Aguilar also pointed to Wednesday’s 3-0 exhibition win against Liga MX squad Santos Laguna as a source of confidence for RGV FC.

The Toros entered Saturday ranked last in the USL with 15 goals before Donovan found his breakthrough during the 45th minute.

“It’s a very exciting and happy environment right now,” Donovan said. “Winning is always fun, and to get your first win in a while is a great thing. All the guys are extremely happy.”

Enriquez scored in the 90th minute to ice the game. As Las Vegas desperately pressed forward, Aldo Quintanilla launched a counterattack. He dribbled from RGV’s half to about 30 yards from goal, then sent a pass to his left to Enriquez, who controlled the ball at the top of the box, took one touch forward and then sent a low shot through Las Vegas’ keeper.

Enriquez said he dedicated the goal to an uncle who passed away a few years ago.

“His birthday was yesterday,” Enriquez said. “So I dedicated that goal to him. That was pretty special.”