San Antonio FC Manage win while Resting Players

Akwafei Ajeakwa, scorer of San Antonio FC’s first goal (Photo: San Antonio FC)

San Antonio FC has continued their phenomenal start to the 2017 USL season and extended their lead on top of the western conference standings to four points as they managed a 3-2 win over Seattle Sounders 2 at Starfire Stadium on Tuesday night.

“Tonight was a very difficult game.” Said San Antonio FC head coach Darren Powell. “Seattle asked a lot of us defensively, but our guys hung in there and fought hard. We rested a few guys, but earning three points in this league is extremely valuable.”

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San Antonio FC Stay Perfect With First win in Canada

Aly Hassan celebrates (Photo: San Antonio FC)

San Antonio FC remain undefeated and on top of the USL Western Conference standings following a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps 2 at Thunderbird Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Aly Al Hasssan scored his first league goal for the club while Billy Forbes continued his stellar start to the season with the other goal to give San Antonio FC the win. The result puts San Antonio one point clear at the top of the western conference where they have set themselves up as the team to beat.

The visitors opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, the goal coming from the very back as goalkeeper Matt Cardone found Forbes. That allowed the Turks and Caicos International space to send the ball square to Hassan who easily sent it past the keeper first time.

San Antonio FC was a little unlucky to concede the equalizer as it came from a deflection off the post. That rebound fell back to Marcos Bustos who controlled well before dispatching the shot in to the back of the net to make it 1-1 at half-time.

It didn’t take long for San Antonio to restore their lead as just one minute in to the half they found themselves back in front. A defensive error from the Whitecaps reserves allowed Forbes to capitalize as he was able to get on the end of the ball and hit a lobbed header past the keeper to make it 2-1.

There was some bad news for San Antonio FC in the 56th minute as they had to replace Cardone as he suffered an injury. That gave a debut to Diego Restrepo who acquitted himself well, keeping Vancouver out in the 2-1 win, a perfect start to what will be a difficult road stretch.

Round 5 Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 v San Antonio FC

Sean Melvin in action for Whitecaps 2 (Photo: Vancouver Whitecaps)

Match Details: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 v San Antonio FC, April 22 2017, 3:00PM UBC Thunderbird Stadium, BC, Canada.

San Antonio FC Form: WDWW

Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Form: WWDL

San Antonio FC 2017 Record: 3-1-0-10pts – 1st

Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Form: 2-1-1-7pts – 6th

All-time Series: San Antonio FC leads 1-0, a 2-0 win in Round 17 last year

Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Last Match Summary (v Portland Timbers 2):

The Whitecaps seem to have found their shape, lining up in a 3-1-4-2 to get both of their wins, and are certainly the strongest side in the Cascadia region, at least in USL. The Whitecaps survived a lot of pressure against Portland last week, with Sean Melvin having a phenomenal performance in goal.

A late goal ended up giving them a 1-0 win over the Timbers, a win that came on the back of their defenders. It would be easy to say they didn’t deserve it, but their defensive performance was strong enough to back up that they did deserve the win.

Statistical Note: This will be the first ever match San Antonio FC plays outside of the United States, having only played Vancouver at home. Congratulations are due to Rafael Castillo who, with his penalty against Reno last weekend, is now the leading goal scorer in San Antonio pro soccer history.

Key to the match:

Both teams won their matches last week with less possession than their opponent, which makes the key to the match easy to spot, patience. San Antonio will have to be patient as Vancouver proved themselves a strong defensive team and they’ll be hard to break down but San Antonio have proved that they can score plenty of goals if they just wait for the right opportunity and they need to do that again this week.

Prediction: San Antonio FC 1 Vancouver Whitecaps 2 0

Tyrpak Stunner Salvages Point for San Antonio FC

SAFC

Kris Tyrpak celebrates his goal with his team mates (Photo: Robin Jerstad/San Antonio FC)

A Kris Tyrpak stunner saved a point for San Antonio FC as his late goal equalized the match at 1-1 keeping San Antonio’s undefeated start to the season intact and giving them what could be a vital point in the match against Colorado Springs Switchbacks at Toyota Field on Friday night.

It was a switch of play that gave San Antonio FC their equalizer as their midfielder, Shawn Chin, looked up and sent the ball for Tyrpak on the far side. The Texan chested the ball down with his first touch, before hitting a perfect volley that left the keeper with no chance and gave San Antonio FC the draw.

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Round 3 Preview: San Antonio FC v Colorado Springs Switchbacks

Colorado Springs in action against OKC Energy (Photo: Colorado Springs Switchbacks)

Match Details: San Antonio FC v Colorado Springs Switchbacks, April 7 2017, 8:00pm, Toyota Field, San Antonio, TX

San Antonio FC Form: DW

Colorado Springs Switchbacks Form: LW* – Colorado Springs first match is credited as a win due to a Tulsa Roughnecks forfeit but they actually lost the match 4-1.

San Antonio FC 2017 Record: 2-0-0-6pts – 2nd

Colorado Springs Switchbacks 2017 Record: 1-0-1-4pts – 5th

All-time Series: Series tied 1-1 (Under standard tie breaking rules, San Antonio FC lead on goals scored)

Colorado Springs Switchbacks Last Match Summary (v Oklahoma City Energy):

It was a difficult match last Saturday for both sides as a snow storm blew through Colorado Springs, making conditions hard for both teams. Masta Kacher scored the goal for the Switchbacks in the 1-1 draw as he continued to be the main man for the Switchbacks in to another season.

The weather may have made things better for the Switchbacks as they were able to stifle Oklahoma City in the match. It was also inconsistent with their result a week before, masked by the fact that it is now recorded as a win for the Switchbacks, they actually lost 4-1.

Colorado Springs will not have such an advantage in San Antonio, with the weather almost the exact opposite of a snow storm.

Statistical Note: Should Rafael Castillo score a goal in this match he will take sole occupation of the top goal scorer spot in San Antonio pro soccer history, he went level with Pablo Campos, scoring his 25th goal for a San Antonio professional soccer club on Saturday.

Key to the match

San Antonio FC has proven already this season that they can carry a lead, and that will be key for them again, if they can score early that would rattle Colorado Springs and could well see San Antonio FC score more goals. The off the ball movement from San Antonio FC proved crucial throughout the match as players were able to draw defenders away from the actual intended target of a pass which saw the space open up, if they can do that again this week it could be a rugby score.

Prediction: San Antonio FC 2 Colorado Springs Switchbacks 0

 

San Antonio FC Claim big win in Home Opener

USL LA Galaxy II vs San Antonio FC

Rafael Castillo celebrates his goal (Photo: Darren Abate/USL)

San Antonio FC has sent a strong message to the rest of the United Soccer League as they managed a memorable 3-0 victory over LA Galaxy II at Toyota Field on Saturday night.

“I’m very proud of our guys for the way they worked from the first whistle. There was a lot of positive energy that the players showed. We got off to a good start and I thought today we scored three very good goals.” Said San Antonio FC head coach Darren Powell after the match.

12 minutes in to the match San Antonio FC opened the scoring after some phenomenal team work that unlocked LA Galaxy II. San Antonio midfielder Cesar Elizondo sent in a perfect through ball for forward Billy Forbes, he ran clean through on goal and saw his initial two efforts saved, but the ball rebounded for him to lay it back to midfielder Rafael Castillo, left wide open, allowing him to take advantage of the keeper being out of position and bury it right up the middle.

An unlikely source gave San Antonio their second goal of the match as San Antonio FC defender Ben Newnam made a great run down the right. Elizondo ran forward to draw the defense which allowed San Antonio FC midfielder Michael Reed to run on and hit the ball, a deflection taking it away from the keeper before it spun over the line and in to the net.

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Round 2 Preview: San Antonio FC v Los Angeles Galaxy II

Photo: Los Angeles Galaxy

Match Details: San Antonio FC v LA Galaxy II, April 1 2017, 7:30pm, Toyota Field, San Antonio, TX

San Antonio FC Form: W

LA Galaxy II Form: W

San Antonio FC 2017 Record: 1-0-0-3pts – 7th

LA Galaxy II 2017 Record: 1-0-0-3pts – 4th

All-time Series: LA Galaxy II lead the series 1-0-1

LA Galaxy II Last Match Summary (v Vancouver Whitecaps 2):

Los Dos come in to the match against San Antonio FC off of a home win as they managed a 2-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps 2. They were given a big boost to open the scoring as Vancouver Sem De Wit’s header back to the keeper inadvertently nutmegged Spencer Richey in the Vancouver goal.

The other goal of the match came in the 67th minute through Ethan Zubak who was able to get on the end of a cross from Bradford Jamieson IV. In between the two goals Vancouver was the much stronger side as they controlled proceedings but couldn’t find a goal.

It was not the most polished performance from Los Dos but it got the job done, but the problems there will leave San Antonio FC happy that they can play Los Dos in an early season match before they really hit their stride.

Statistical Note: A win for San Antonio FC would be their first ever win in a home opener and their first against LA Galaxy II.

Key to the match

Both sides were able to carry early goals to their wins last week and as such an early goal will be significant, potentially acting as the match winner. LA Galaxy II scored especially early in their win and despite being out played for much of the match they won largely thanks to that score board pressure, so San Antonio FC will have to make sure to score first as LA Galaxy II will shut down well and make it very difficult to score.

Prediction: San Antonio FC 1 LA Galaxy II 1

 

USL to add Second Division in 2019

Image courtesy USL

With no third division league in the United States in 2017, the United Soccer League (USL) has announced on Thursday that it will launch a third-division league in 2019, essentially a USL 2 like they used to have back in the last decade.

“We are in a unique position to lead the sport’s next phase of growth with a proven and exciting competition model, the same which has made the USL the top Division II league in North America,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “With elite competition and strong ownership groups providing unrivaled fan experiences, the USL will continue shaping the future of professional soccer through a third-division league, cultivating and bonding local supporters through the ‘beautiful game’ for generations to come.”

The USL is currently the largest second division, in terms of members, in the world and it is expected that this lead could well make that smaller. That would make the two leagues more manageable and could potentially see a return to inter-conference play in the top USL division.

“The league will focus on launching new third-division clubs in markets that possess strong local ownership groups, populations with broad-based diversity, a vibrant millennial and strong family base, established corporate support, and stadiums to properly showcase the sport for fans, partners and the public.” Says the league statement, which suggests that this will be a league of newly established clubs rather than clubs that are currently in USL and don’t meet division two standards, a spokesman confirmed that USL are currently in discussions with new markets “with numerous potential owners.”

Despite those statements it seems clear that part of the intent of the USL2 will be to improve the current USL and boost their chances of getting second division sanctioning permanently. With a number of teams currently not meeting second division status relegating those teams to the third division will boost USL’s chances of receiving that sanctioning.

USL state that they have been working on this idea for 18 months, and the league will include access to all the current USL features, including USL productions. There was no mention in the announcement of what markets they are looking at for this new division, but it could potentially include a number of successful Premier Development League (PDL) markets switching to professional teams.

For Texas an obvious candidate for this league is a return of the Austin Aztex, who are currently in hiatus due to being able to find an appropriate venue for second division soccer. Their former home venue of House Park would be good enough for third division standards and playing would help bring in investors that could potentially help make a leap to a second division venue and the second division.

The elephant in the room is what the status of the Major League Soccer (MLS) reserve teams will be, with many fans desiring that those teams would compete in the third division. Despite that wish, a number of the MLS reserve teams meet second division standards, as being a reserve team is not a disqualifying issue, and as such USL may want to keep at least some of them in the second division. In addition, the last final was contested between two MLS reserve sides (New York Red Bulls II and Swope Park Rangers) with the 2015 final featuring an MLS reserve side, LA Galaxy II, so their performances would not justify such a relegation.