EL PASO, Texas – In the first game of the inaugural Copa Tejas, Rio Grande Valley fought back to earn its first point of the season in a 2-2 draw that denied El Paso Locomotive FC victory in front of a home crowd of 7,458 fans at Southwest University Park. Here are three takeaways from the contest.
BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW: When Derek Gebhard’s goal found the net for El Paso Locomotive FC with 12 minutes to go to give the hosts a two-goal advantage, it must have felt like the club had claimed the first victory in its history in front of another energized home crowd. Thanks to the late dramatics by Rio Grande Valley FC, though, that night will have to wait as Locomotive FC was unable to close its grip on the three points. El Paso had done well enough defensively prior to Romilio Hernandez’s thunderbolt that quickly answered Gebhard’s second of the season, limiting the visitors to only one shot on target, but Locomotive FC and its fans will find this a difficult result to reason with in the aftermath.
BREAKING THE SEAL: Rio Grande Valley FC was one of only two clubs that had yet to find the back of the net in the USL Championship going into Saturday night’s action. After seeing that streak broken by what might be a candidate for the league’s Goal of the Year by Hernandez, and then adding a 90th-minute equalizer from Jesus Enriquez, the Toros must be thinking their fortunes in front of net are going to perk up in the next few games. It would certainly be useful if that was the case, with RGVFC heading to face the newly free-scoring Tulsa Roughnecks FC next Friday night in its next outing.
TEXAS-SIZED EXCITEMENT: If this is what we can expect for the games that make up the Copa Tejas this season, then we’re in for a lot of fun from the four clubs in the Lonestar State. The opening game of the round-robin tournament gave everything you’d want in a rivalry clash, from a vibrant atmosphere provided by the 8th Notch and their cohorts and the sort of late-game drama that only helps intensify the feeling between a pair of clubs. The eyes of Texas will move Austin next week as Bold FC hosts its inaugural home opener against San Antonio FC. Most neutrals will be hoping for something just as dramatic in that encounter.