All-time regular season series: 2-1-0, SPR leads
San Antonio FC (6-6-7, 24pts) led for most of the match at Swope Soccer Village but were unable to hold on as the Swope Park Rangers (8-4-8, 28pts) came from behind to win 2-1. This was the first match of a three game road trip for the Alamo City boys. With captain Josh Ford suspended, and vice-captain Rafael Castillo sidelined due to a lower body injury, midfielder Michael Reed wore the captains armband for SAFC.
The first half was pretty even between the two sides. Both teams used long balls to try and get the ball over the defense, but rarely succeeded. The breakthrough for the visitors came in the 30' when Danny Garcia won the ball off a Rangers turnover and smartly passed to a driving Michael Reed who scored his third goal of the season, giving San Antonio the 1-0 lead. That would be the scoreline as the teams headed to the locker room.
The second half saw plenty of changes from both squads, however more consequential for the visitors. Captain Michael Reed was replaced at halftime, and his presence was sorely missed. With plenty of possession and pressure, Swope Park were able to level the match in the 71' as the USL's all-time leading goal scorer, Dane Kelly, earned a header off an Ayrton Pinheiro cross and, with the help of the crossbar, beat SA back-up goalie Matt Cardone. It would be 13 minutes later that the hosts would take the lead for the first time in the match. GK Cardone had a great save on Rangers' Pasher, but Mark Anthony Gonzalez was able to tap in the ball to give Rangers the 2-1 lead. San Antonio would push at the very end of stoppage time, but it was too little too late.
This is the second consecutive loss for San Antonio in which they had scored first; the first time they lost a match all season after scoring first was last week's loss against Los Dos. This is also the second back-to-back loss for the club - the first was back in April when they lost consecutively to Orange County and Colorado Springs. This win gives Swope Park a little breathing room in the playoff race.
Next up for the Alamo City boys is a tilt with the 2014 USL Champions, Sacramento Republic FC - the only match-up this season between the two sides.
All-time regular season series: 0-1-0. San Antonio & SPR drew in their first ever meeting, 1-1, in front of a record crowd of 8,466 at Toyota Field.
San Antonio FC (6-6-6, 24pts) will face Swope Park Rangers (7-4-8, 25pts) on their first stop during a three match away trip this Saturday. The Alamo City boys just finished up a three match home-stand where they collected four points out of nine, going 1-1-1. San Antonio's six-match unbeaten streak was stopped when the Western Conference co-leaders, LA Galaxy II, squeaked out a 2-3 win at Toyota Field. After falling behind 1-3 before halftime, the Alamo boys didn't gave up. Their second-half push certainly made the visitors nervous, especially when defender Stephen McCarthy pulled the home side within one of escaping with at least a point in hand. It wasn't meant to be though as San Antonio suffered its first loss since June 4 and first home loss since May 21. It was also the first loss for the club after scoring first in a match this season.
Saturday's tilt against Swope Park is a big one for the playoff push this fall. SPR are just one point ahead of San Antonio, however, SA holds a game in hand on the Rangers. The winner of this match will be in a playoff position and can start to separate themselves from the other. The first match between the two sides was a 1-1 draw in San Antonio where a record crowd at Toyota Field opened up the 2016 home schedule. During San Antonio's six-match unbeaten streak, a total of 10 goals were scored for SA while the team gave up five, going 4-2-0. Goals from veteran Rafael Castillo and new comer Franck Tayou have helped San Antonio shake off their early season stumbles.
Q & A with Thad Bell of the SB Nation blog The Blue Testament:
Alamo Soccer: How have SPR improved, or not, since their first meeting against SA back on 4/9?
Thad: SPR has improved, they are starting to find some consistency with three wins, a pair of draws on the road and one loss. In that loss against their nemesis (OKC) SPR outplayed them for 80 minutes and a bad sub or two opened them up. Dos Santos has figured out his players, who they are and where they best fit. The consistency has been challenged a bit by loans coming down and being recalled but the core has remained good.
Alamo Soccer: Has the roster changed much since that first meeting?
Thad: The roster has changed, in fact there will may be only 3 or 4 players starting that started the first match and only 2 will be in the same spot. Duke has moved from left back to the midfield and Meyers may start but he has mostly been replaced by Didic and Ballo (or Ellis on loan).
So probably Kempin and Ualefi will probably be the only two in the same spot and starting.
Van Compernolle was loaned back to OKC, Mulligan's loan recalled, Oliveira injured for the season, Meyer lost the starting center back spot and did show up as an emergency right back last match, Salloi loaned to a team in Hungary.
Dane Kelly has come off of injury and the team added Aryton as well.
Alamo Soccer: What kind of atmosphere should San Antonio expect at Swope Soccer Village?
Thad: There is passionate and dedicated fan base but it is small. With the Rangers being new and a B team in the same city as the first team, it is hard to have a distinct group of Rangers fans. The supporters will be loud and annoying for their size but it will be nothing like the atmosphere at Children's Mercy Park.
Alamo Soccer: SPR are the only team in the West that is currently in a playoff position with a negative goal differential. How worrisome, if at all, is that for the club as the final third of the season begins?
Thad: SPR was good at the beginning of the year but struggled to find consistency and play as a team as the travel and games added up. That led to some very up and down results, close wins/ties and some hard fought but blow out losses leading to the differential looking bad.
After this match they are on the road for three games and then six out of the last seven at home should give them a chance to move up the standing and improved the differential.
Alamo Soccer: Match predictions?
Thad: I hate predictions (so many variables) but I will go with 2-1 for Swope Park.
This match looks to be a toss up as Swope Park's roster is not the same as when they visited San Antonio earlier in the season. San Antonio's scoring prowess has improved, especially with the addition of Tayou and Elizondo up front. San Antonio has done better this year after scoring first, minus the last match vs Los Dos, so getting out to an early start, on the road, will be important - especially as they face a virtually new opponent. Even with the setback against Los Angeles, I think that San Antonio will continue to play well as they have the past month or so. I predict a 2-1 away win for San Antonio.
Things to watch for:
I'd like to thank Thad for updating us on Swope Park's season since San Antonio last saw them! You can reach Thad on Twitter @TheBackpost and read his posts on The Blue Testament.
The game is this Saturday, July 30th at 7:30pm CST. #SPRvSA
How to watch:
All-time regular season series: First match
A pair of unbeaten clubs will meet up this weekend as San Antonio FC (1-0-0, 3pts) hosts Swope Park Rangers (2-0-0, 6pts) in the home opener for the Alamo City boys. The hosts opened up their USL account in convincing fashion, earning a 3-0 away win at Seattle with FW Jason Johnson scoring a brace in the first 10 minutes. SAFC's next opponent looks to be a tougher match and will test head coach Darren Powell's squad.
MLS' Sporting Kansas City's (SKC) USL affiliate, Swope Park Rangers (SPR), are coming off back-to-back wins to start off their inaugural season. Both of their matches have been 2-1 decisions against Portland Timers 2 and on the road visiting the Tusla Roughnecks. All four of the Rangers goals have come from different players as they have been able to spread the goal-scoring wealth around - something that will give San Antonio's defense plenty to focus on as they prepare this week.
Of some interest:
Two of the starting XI for Swope Park will be familiar faces to San Antonio fans. GK Jon Kempin and FW Kris Tyrpak both played for the former San Antonio Scorpions of the NASL. Kempin was on loan from SKC to start the 2015 season but only started a couple games before returning to SKC in May. Tyrpak joined the club in October for the final month of NASL play from former USL club, the Austin Aztex, who are on hiatus for 2016. Tyrpak's goal scoring prowess is known to San Antonio fans - he scored two goals in his first two games with the Scorpions.
Q & A with Thad Bell of the SB Nation blog The Blue Testament:
Alamo Soccer: What has been the fan response to Swope Park? Are supporters mainly SKC cross-overs? Or is it attracting a different supporter demographic?
Thad: With only one home game so far (and SKC season ticket members received free tickets) it is a little hard to tell. It appears that SPR's fan base will be a mix. Some SKC fans for sure, some that were priced out of regular season tickets and some that will just be SPR fans. Another bonus for SPR is that they play on the opposite side of the city. Children's Mercy Park is in the north west corner and Swope Park is more central east.
Alamo Soccer: How is success defined for Marc Dos Santos? Players that move to MLS? Or league titles?
Thad: Dos Santos' job is not easy, he has several mandates. Provide a spot for first team players to get time when needed, have a supply of players ready to be called up and help develop Sporting Academy players. On top of all that is to have a winning culture. It might be okay to not win all the titles but it will not be okay to have a poor record at all.
Alamo Soccer: Swope Park's attack seems strong, all 4 of the goals scored this season have come from different players. San Antonio fans will be familiar with former Scorpion Tyrpak, who/what makes this attack effective?
Thad: You are right, they are capable of spreading it around for sure. First take a look at how they are prepared, Swope Park will play a style that closely resembles Sporting KC. A base 4-3-3 that presses hard to create turnovers. Having the close ties to the first team was a big attraction for several players (and Dos Santos). All time leading USL scorer Dane Kelly, Kris Tyrpak and several others came for that very reason. Those experienced players were bolstered with young talent also looking for opportunities like Kevin Oliveira . Add on two Sporting Academy signings, 18 year-old Nansel Selbol and 19 year-old Daniel Salloi have both scored off the bench already this year.
The team has a clear style/method of play from the first team
Keys to the game:
San Antonio will again look to its defense to shutdown the attack of Rangers. If the back line of San Antonio can contain the multiple attack of SPR, the home squad will have a great chance of winning in front of the home crowd.
Continue to spread the wealth, that should be the mantra for SPR. If they can continue to create chances for a variety of players, it might be a long night for the Alamo City boys.
This should be a great match-up at Toyota Field! The sell-out crowd will be excited to see their team play at home for the first time this season. Another win for the Alamo City boys will be well earned, but a draw might be the ultimate outcome.
A big thanks to Thad Bell for answering some questions for us on our next opponent! You can reach Thad on Twitter @TheBackpost and read his posts on The Blue Testament.
The game is this Saturday, April 9th at 7:30pm CST. #SAvSPR
How to watch:
San Antonio FC & the USL
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