San Antonio FC (8-7-8, 31pts) earned their second straight win at home against the Seattle Sounders FC 2 (7-6-11, 27pts) in front of 6,417 to move into 8th place in the Western Conference. This was the second, and final match-up between the two sides for 2016. San Antonio won both, with S2 failing to score on the Alamo City boys, going 0-4 vs the Texans.
After only earning one point on their last three match road trip, San Antonio has found its form in the confines of Toyota Field, grabbing all six points in two matches. They now sit in the final playoff spot with seven matches left in the regular season.
The first half was controlled mostly by San Antonio, however the attacking form was not creative. There were a handful of chances by San Antonio that were just wide of the S2 net. A free kick by Carlos Alvarez just outside the penalty area soared past the goal to give S2 a scare. A little later in the half, former Futsal star Franck Tayou juggled the ball in the box and volleyed it straight to the keeper. The skills used to control the ball in such a tight space can be attributed to his scoring prowess in Futsal, where the playing field is much smaller than the soccer pitch.
Halftime came with the teams heading to the locker room 0-0. It didn't take long for a weather delay to come into effect due to lightning in the area. Luckily for the fans and teams, there was only one delay and they were able to finish the match without interruption.
The second half saw sprinkles add to the match's atmosphere. The break through came in the 51' when Taylor Morgan sent a beautiful through ball to Rafa Castillo who slotted the ball past the keeper to give the home side the lead.
The last 15 minutes or so were dominated by S2 possession and attack who were looking for the equalizer. It never came. San Antonio goal keeper Matt Cardone was brilliant in goal. He had a few spectacular saves, none better or more crucial than this one.
“We watch Matt every day in training, so training has prepared him for these moments" said Head Coach Darren Powell, "but tonight I thought he played probably his best game in a San Antonio FC shirt.”
San Antonio now hits the road for the next two matches to play St. Louis FC and their final match against Swope Park Rangers. Their next match at Toyota Field is September 4th against Arizona United FC.
Alamo Soccer's Man of the Match: Rafa Castillo (1 goal)
All-time regular season series: First match.
San Antonio FC (6-7-7, 25pts) will close out its final three match away stint of the season in the desert just outside of Phoenix in Arizona. They are coming off a draw against the 2014 USL Champions, Sacramento Republic. The Alamo City boys struck first as Sébastien Thurière let off a long-range shot that was initially saved by Republic's goalkeeper, Evan Newton, but he couldn't hold on to the ball. The rebound fell neatly at the feet of SAFC forward César Elizondo who easily tapped it in to give SAFC the lead. The match ended in a draw, however, when a questionable penalty kick allowed SRFC's Octavio Guzman to step up to the spot and put the ball past Ford to equalize for Republic. San Antonio has gone 0-1-1 so far on the road trip and will be looking to end on a high note as they come back to Toyota Field next week.
Arizona United SC (7-6-8, 27pts) is returning home after defeating the OC Blues 3-1 on the road. They have won three matches out of their last five and are coming into this match on a two game win streak. United's leading goalscorer, Long Tan, has scored eight league goals this season accounting for almost 30% of his teams goals scored.
This will be the first of a back-to-back against Arizona United. These two teams will meet each other again just four days from now in a mid-week clash - this time at Toyota Field.
Q & A with Kyle Kepner of Firebird Rising:
Alamo Soccer: Since this is the first meeting between these two sides, what are some keys things San Antonio fans should know off the bat about Arizona United SC?
Kyle: I would have said that shutting down number ten Luke Rooney in the midfield was key to snuffing Arizona's primary mode of attack, but he's gotten himself suspended, so that's something SAFC won't have to mess with. More broadly, your players endure some pretty harsh summer weather there in south Texas, but there's nothing quite like playing in Arizona's dry heat. There is something debilitating about it that causes more wear and tear on visiting athletes, so I'd keep an eye on any SAFC player who is already battling some sort of fatigue or fitness issue.
Alamo Soccer: Diplo recently became a part-owner of Arizona United. How did he come about to support United? Has his inclusion in the ownership group brought more fans to matches?
Kyle: Club founder and co-chair Kyle Eng is well connected through his varied career in sports and media, and quite simply the timing was right. Diplo has really embraced soccer over the years, and was looking for just such an investment. Mr. Eng had carried the club for almost two years on his own, and this move will be big for the Arizona United's long-term growth.
I'll be honest, and might digress, but Diplo's presence on the business team has not increased attendance all on its own. Attendance is significantly below last season, for a host of less interesting reasons. In the long term, Diplo and fellow musician Pete Wentz, who also invested, will be a boon to the club's marketing efforts. I suspect that a turnaround in the club's fortunes at the gate are more a matter of when, than if, Diplo and Wentz begin to implement a plan.
Alamo Soccer: What Arizona player should San Antonio look out for?
Kyle: With Rooney out, the club will find different ways to get the ball to forwards Chris Cortez and Tyler Blackwood, often on the wings. I realize that's two players, but...oh, and keeper Carl Woszczynski won't easily be beat either, so any SAFC goals will likely come from close range. That's three, isn't it?
Alamo Soccer: Do you think playing back-to-back matches against the same opponent helps or hurts the teams?
Kyle: The short answer is, both. When scouting an opponent, there's no substitute for first-hand knowledge of how you match up, so both clubs should be better prepared next week when Round 2 gets underway at Toyota Field. There's also the adage that familiarity breeds contempt, and in this case, I could see any animosity that crops up Saturday spilling into the midweek fixture. We could have a full-blown rivalry by late Wednesday night, and emotions could be dictating part of the match. I'm all for inspired and exciting soccer, but as a fan, I won't go so far to say I want emotional decisions clouding my players' minds.
Alamo Soccer: Predictions?
Kyle: I'm saying Luke Rooney's name again, because he was so important in Arizona getting six points from two matches last week. Being without him presents a big opportunity for SAFC to own play in the middle of the field, and perhaps perform better against Arizona than recent foes have. It's almost too close to call, but if I were a betting man, I'd go with SAFC, 2-1.
Things to watch for:
I'd like to thank Kyle for introducing us to Arizona United SC & helping me preview tonight's match! You can reach Kyle on Twitter @KyleJKepner and visit his site, Firebird Rising (@firebirdsite).
The game is this Saturday, August 13th at 9:30pm CST. #AZvSA
How to watch:
San Antonio FC (6-7-7, 25pts) left the California capital with only a point in their hands as their victory was lost in the depths of second-half stoppage time on Saturday night. Sacramento Republic FC (9-7-6, 34pts) were playing catch-up for the better part of 75 minutes until a questionable penalty kick allowed SRFC's Octavio Guzman to step up to the spot and put the ball past Ford to equalize for the home side.
The match started out brightly for both sides, but it was the visitors who struck first. Sébastien Thurière let off a long-range shot that was initially saved by Republic's goalkeeper, Evan Newton, but he couldn't hold on to the ball. The rebound fell neatly at the feet of SAFC forward César Elizondo who easily tapped it in for his first in a SAFC kit and ninth with teams from San Antonio.
The home side were more aggressive in the second-half and proved the idea that they are a second-half team. They tested Josh Ford in goal, who matched his personal record of six saves. The team captain was playing in his first match after serving his three match suspension.
San Antonio concludes this three match away trip in the desert when they visit Arizona United FC for the first time. The next two matches will be back-to-back against Arizona United, both home and away.
Alamo Soccer's Man of the Match: César Elizondo (1 goal)
All-time regular season series: First match.
San Antonio FC (6-6-7, 24pts) travels this week to face the 2014 USL Champions, Sacramento Republic FC. The team will be looking to get back on track after dropping their last two straight. It's only the second time the club has lost multiple straight matches. Its latest loss was a tough one to swallow, however. The Alamo City boys were up 1-0 visiting Swope Park Rangers when halftime came. Some key substitutions during and after intermission, including game captain and goalscorer, Michael Reed, left the team vulnerable to the continued possession and pressure brought on by the home squad. Two second-half goals ultimately did San Antonio in. The loss put some separation between Rangers and San Antonio, who still play each other one final time this season. Back-up goal keeper, Matt Cardone played a wonderful match with plenty of top-notch saves. His nine saves were a new club record, previously set by captain Josh Ford (6) who was serving the last match of his three match suspension.
Sacramento Republic FC (9-6-6, 33pts) currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference but have been out of form in recent weeks. In the month of July, Sacramento went 1-2-3, last winning at the beginning of the month against S2. They won their first match in a month during a mid-week clash with the OKC Energy; they now return home for the match against SAFC.
It's unfortunate that these two sides, both with outspoken MLS aspirations, will only play once this season due to the seriously unbalanced USL schedule for 2016. The two sides will, however, see each other twice in 2017 as all Western Conference teams will play a home-away with all conference foes plus a few extra regional matches to round out the new 32 match season.
As San Antonio FC enters in the final third of its inaugural season, every match is a must win if a first-year playoff run is to become a reality.
Watch out for:
What are expecting from this match? What are your predictions?
Leave your comments below!
The game is this Saturday, August 6th at 9:00pm CST. #SACvSA
How to watch:
San Antonio FC & the USL
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