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:
San Antonio FC & the USL
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