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Rio Grande Valley’s Wilmer Cabrera Voted USL Championship Coach of the Month

By Staff, 10/12/22, 2:30PM EDT


Toros posted perfect record in September to climb into playoff contention

TAMPA, Fla. – When the calendar turned to September, Rio Grande Valley FC looked a little bit lost. The Toros were competitive in games, but they just didn’t seem capable of consistently grinding out results. They were three points ahead of last place in the Western Conference and seven points adrift of the playoff places. Before RGV FC’s first match of September, FiveThirtyEight gave the club just a 27 percent chance of reaching the playoffs.

Then things finally clicked and RGV FC reeled off a perfect month, posting a 4-0-0 record and conceding just one goal to climb up the league table at blistering speed. That turnaround led to Rio Grande Valley FC Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera being voted as the Championship Coach of the Month for September.

By the end of the month, RGV FC had moved into the playoff places, two points ahead of Las Vegas Lights FC with a game in hand. Suddenly, the Toros had turned into one of the hottest teams in the league. Cabrera’s side ripped off four consecutive wins with a combined score of 9-1.

“We had to rebuild the team this season, which took a while,” said Cabrera. “We had to get them in shape and accommodate the whole group while finding the right pieces to the puzzle. It took us quite some time but, at the end of the day, it looks like it is going to be perfect because, if we can qualify for the playoffs, that is the goal and is most important for us.”

The Toros didn’t benefit from a friendly schedule for their perfect month, either. First was a trip across Texas to play fellow playoff rival El Paso Locomotive FC, which had a 10-point lead on RGV FC at kickoff. The Toros won 2-0.

Next, RGV FC returned home to H-E-B Park for contests against fifth-placed New Mexico United and third-placed Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. The Toros won those matches 3-1 and 1-0, respectively, proving their credentials against potential playoff teams.

Finally, a trip to the East Coast for a match against the Charleston Battery. RGV FC won 3-0 to close the month with a 4-0-0 record. The Toros’ playoff odds had improved to 74 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight, up from 27 percent four weeks earlier.

Cabrera, who also serves as RGV FC’s Sporting Director, credited the additions of Christian Pinzon and Jonas Fjeldberg, who both joined the club in July, as well as the mindset and maturity of the roster with helping to turn around the fortunes of the team.

Those two players combined for six goals and one assist across four matches in September. For a team that conceded just once all month, it was more than enough offensive production to achieve results.

“We were fortunate in finding a good group where the players always believed in everything that we were trying to accomplish,” Cabrera said. “They never gave up and were always positive and supporting our ideas and adjustments in all aspects. It is a great locker room; the experienced players manage the locker room very well. I think that it is a very nice group of very close friends, they help each other and hold each other accountable in all aspects as well.”

Cabrera received 77 percent of the vote to pick up the monthly award. San Antonio FC’s Alen Marcina finished second with 20 percent of the vote after leading San Antonio FC to a 4-0-1 month while also conceding only one goal. Memphis 901 FC’s Ben Pirmann received three percent of the vote after a 3-0-1 month.

The USL Championship’s Coach of the Month award is voted upon by the USL Championship National Media Panel and the USL Championship Technical Committee, with each group responsible for 50 percent of the overall vote.

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