EDINBURG, Texas – Xavier Baez scored a late equalizer as a 10-man Austin Bold FC earned a 1-1 draw with Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday night at H-E-B Park after the hosts had taken an early lead through Juan David Cabezas in an entertaining contest.
Looking for their first win against Austin this season, the Toros got out to an ideal start in the eighth minute as a corner kick from the left by Rodrigo Lopez picked out Cabezas for a header at the top of the six-yard area into the left side of the net as the central midfielder outdueled his marker to get to the delivery. Bold FC had a golden opportunity to answer immediately through Alasanne Ates Diouf as he found space for a header off a good cross from the left by Stefano Pinho but sent his finish well over the crossbar.
Omar Gordon went closer for the visitors in the 19th minute as he controlled possession in the left side of the penalty area and fired a near-post shot that RGVFC goalkeeper Tyler Deric turned behind, and three minutes later Deric was called on again as Sean Okoli put another effort on target for Austin. Deric then came up with his biggest save of the half as a misplaced pass by the Toros in their own defensive third was intercepted by Diouf, who quickly centered for Baez allowing the Mexican midfielder to fire low only for Deric to do enough to turn the ball wide of the right post.
The Toros almost had a chance to add to their lead late in the first half as the ball came toward Lopez in the right side of the penalty area but a decisive challenge by Austin defender Jermaine Taylor meant the veteran couldn’t get a shot away. The hosts went close early in the second half as Wan Kuzain fired just wide of the right post from 25 yards moments before another interception in the Toros’ half by Diouf set up a chance for Pinho that dribbled just wide of the left post as Deric came off his line to try and narrow the angle.
Austin was reduced to 10 men six minutes into the second half as Juan Pablo Torres was sent off after receiving a second yellow card, which helped the hosts gain some control over the contest. Lopez almost added a second for the Toros with 16 minutes to go as he sent a free kick from the top of the penalty area toward the top-left corner of the net only for Bold FC goalkeeper Elliot Panicco to tip the ball over the crossbar. Another set piece from longer range for the hosts was also sent just wide by Juan Carlos Azocar in the 79th minute as he tried to curl it to the right corner of the net, but with five minutes to go Bold FC found its equalizer as a cross from the right by Emilio Ycaza found an onrushing Baez who clipped a volley in at the near post.
The Toros tried to find a late winner, and a cross by Lopez after a short corner on the right side was sent just over the crossbar by Carter Manley before James Murphy tried a shot from 25 yards that was held by Pannico. There would be no late twist on this occasion, however, as the honors ended even between the Copa Tejas rivals for a second consecutive meeting.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Rodrigo Lopez, Rio Grande Valley FC – Lopez recorded the early assist for the Toros and had one shot on goal and five key passes while completing 67 of 76 passes and making eight recoveries in a strong all-around display.
RGV – Juan David Cabezas (Rodrigo Lopez) 7’
ATX – Xavier Baez (Emilio Ycaza) 85’