New faces, new places highlight RGV match

To steal a line from the immortal Hank Williams, Jr., Are you ready for some football?

All of us here at Somos Mas NM are, without a doubt. And we know that the rest of the New Mexico United Nation is as well. Sure, we’ve had the preseason to prepare for it, but there’s a different feeling between the few hundred supporters out at Mesa del Sol and the thousands in attendance at The Lab. Yeah, I know, we’re not home this weekend, but the excitement is still there. It’s been 197 days since United last played a competitive match. It’s been even longer since United last faced RGV FC. 595 days to be exact.

After missing out on playing RGV during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, United is getting their first look at the Fighting Ron Patels as we’ve dubbed them on the podcast. We’ve tried reaching out to the guys from the Down in the RGV podcast to try and talk to them about the club ahead of the season, but haven’t heard back from anyone. One of the main reasons for doing this is that there isn’t much out there about the RGV preseason, and honestly, scrolling back through their social feeds for the past couple of months isn’t all that appealing. The Toros have undergone a massive facelift during the offseason, starting with the man in charge.

Returning to the club he previously coached, Wilmer Cabrera is hoping to change the fortunes of his club. Perennial basement dwellers, RGV have essentially nowhere to go but up. Let’s be honest, they barely escaped earning themselves the Wooden Spoon in 2020. Had they played their entire schedule, who knows what might have happened. in the aftermath of four consecutive seasons, changes needed to be made. RGV’s roster has been completely overhauled, including the loss of Isidro ‘Chelo’ Martinez. The club made a coaching change and renegotiated their arrangement with Houston Dynamo in order to become completely independent, and eligible for the US Open Cup (RIP).

Without having much to go on in terms of results from the preseason, I mean, they don’t even have a Wikipedia page for this season yet, it’s hard to give an in-depth preview of what to expect from RGV this season. I think though, we can still give some members of their club the ‘to watch’ designation.

RGV to Watch

Wilmer Cabrera – The former coach has returned to his roots and is hoping to turn the ship around down in Edinburg. During his previous stint with the club, he led the club to fourteen wins during his lone season in charge, finishing second in the Western Conference regular season. They would go on to lose to OKC Energy FC in the first round of the playoffs before Cabrera left for MLS. Could he turn this squad around? Only time will tell.

Tyler Deric – One of few familiar faces left on this RGV squad, Deric has been in and around the RGV and Dynamo organization since 2009. He is an extremely talented keeper and his leadership will be key this season for the Toros.

Unlike RGV, New Mexico United is coming off of their second playoff appearance in as many years. With a dozen players returning from squad that spent the entire season on a road trip, they should be more than prepared for a regular USL schedule this year. Pair that with the amount of experience that the front office went out and got for Troy, and United should be a force to be reckoned with.

After dealing with a slow start to the pre-season, United flipped the switch and went on to win their final four matches. The latest, of course, was the 4-0 drubbing of the 2020 Western Conference Champion Phoenix Rising. I’m going to try my best not to put to much into that, it was just the pre-season after all. Oh, what the heck, that was a great display on both ends and we’re going to win it all.

I kid.

Well, maybe only a little. The way that Troy and his men turned things around and came together is a very promising sign for this group. There are still things to work on obviously, but there isn’t anything glaring over the last three matches that I would be too concerned about. Looking ahead to Saturday night’s match, I just don’t see any way that United comes away with less than three points. On the podcast this week, Jacob and I both said that United would win and get a clean sheet. I’m sure Earl might agree with us there as well. I just know that I can’t wait to watch them in action.

New Mexico to Watch

Chelo – The former RGV midfielder came over to United in the off-season and is getting a chance to face his former club straight away. He’s looked fantastic so far in the preseason and the first few weeks should be a great opportunity for him to establish himself on the pitch wearing the Black & Yellow.

The Back 3 – As improved as the back line has been since the start of the 2020 campaign, there have still been moments of delayed reaction. We saw a couple of them in the preseason, but none of them really came back to haunt the club in the end. Maybe it’s what we’ve seen in the past where we come out slow to start a half, but that needs to stop and against a club like RGV it has a big chance to improve.

Projected XI vs RGV

Saturday’s match is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. (MDT) kickoff from H-E-B Park in Edinburg. The match can be heard locally on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM or streamed live on ESPN+.