The bright lights of the UTRGV Soccer Complex are beaming, the stands are full of roaring, flag-waving fans, and tables border the sideline of the soccer field to provide extra seating.
It’s another home game for the RGV FC Toros, the first-year United Soccer League hybrid affiliate club of the Houston Dynamo.
In March 2015, the USL awarded Edinburg a professional soccer team to be part of the now 29-team United Soccer League. The first-year franchise began play this year but is still in the process of building a 10,000-seat home stadium, located at 1616 S. Raul Longoria Rd. in Edinburg, the former site of Super Splash Adventure Waterpark.
With the stadium not being completed by the beginning of the Toros season this March, a backup plan for home games was needed and that’s where UTRGV came in. The Toros and UTRGV reached an agreement in which RGV FC rented the UTRGV Soccer Complex from the university to play its first four USL home matches.
In addition to sharing the facility for practice and home games, the Toros scrimmaged the UTRGV Men’s Soccer Team once in March and once in April to build on the connection between the two neighboring soccer teams.
Donovan Dowling, assistant coach of the UTRGV Men’s Soccer Team and who also spends his time as a goalkeeper coach for the RGV FC Toros, provided a unique perspective on the relationship between the Toros and Vaqueros in their inaugural year.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to be able to work with both teams,” said Dowling, who joined UTRGV as assistant coach in January 2015. “It provides a great experience for the players on both teams to learn from each other and get better. To be able to build with each of these programs and these players in their first year is really special.”
The Toros home stadium was initially supposed to be ready for play on June 22, but that could be a long shot considering the expanded additions under construction in the stadium to provide more seating, suites and locker rooms are not yet completed. With the four-game rental agreement of the UTRGV Soccer Complex set to end to give the field recovery time before the university soccer teams begin their season, the Toros might have to look elsewhere for a home stadium until theirs is ready.
Toros Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera, who played for the Colombian national soccer team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, talked about the experiences of a first-year soccer franchise.
“I’m not sure if we’re going to get to play in our stadium this year, but it’s been a huge benefit having UTRGV to have this relationship with,” said Cabrera, who coached Chivas USA in Major League Soccer in 2014. “Soccer is important to this region of the country and I think that’s why we’ve had a great show of support from the fans, so far, in our first year, and we hope it continues.”
The Toros played their final home game against OKC Energy FC last Saturday at the UTRGV Soccer Complex. Results were not available at press time. Their next scheduled home game is June 22 versus Arizona United SC, yet it is not clear where they will play as their rental agreement with UTRGV will have ended.
For information on the RGV FC Toros future schedule and plans, visit RGVFC.com.
UTRGV soccer will kick off in the dog days of summer when the women’s soccer team begins its practice Aug. 4 and the men begin theirs on Aug. 11. The Vaqueros will officially begin their season when the men’s team hosts a home friendly at 7 p.m. Aug. 17 against the St. Edward’s University Hilltoppers, while the women’s home opener is at 7 p.m. Aug. 19 against the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Islanders. Keep up with all UTRGV athletics by visiting GoUTRGV.com.