Photo Credit: San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC faced off against two local college teams in two separate 70-minute friendlies on Saturday. The first was a 0-0 draw against St. Edwards University of Austin. The second was a 2-0 win against San Antonio’s St. Mary’s University.
As I’ve said previously, final scores for pre-season friendlies don’t really matter. The final scores don’t really tell the tale of what we learned, or maybe more accurately what questions were created, on Saturday.
The biggest takeaway from Saturday is that Head Coach Darren Powell is still playing with not only the formation, but also the positioning of some players. Let’s take a look at the two XI’s that played:
The St. Ed’s game saw SAFC take the field in what looks like a 4-3-2-1 on the lineup board. The starting XI was Ford; Gunderson, McCarthy, McBride, Cochrane; Chin, Thuriere, Reed, Araujo, Trialist; Trialist.
The most interesting note here is that Chin has been introduced and played previously as a forward, but saw action in the first match in a more defensive position. Araujo on the other hand was introduced as a midfielder, but played ahead of Chin in the five-man midfield Saturday.
Another note is that the XI’s seem to be a mix of experienced players and players with little professional experience. Looking at the XI’s from Saturday, both fit the pattern of not being an “expected starting XI,” but rather a mix to see how players work with each other. I don’t read too much into this in regards to who will start, but rather using pre-season friendlies as extended training sessions to see what rookie players will do when working with experienced players and vice-versa.
The St. Mary’s game brought a different formation and XI to the field for SAFC. They played this 70-minute match in a 4-3-1-2 as follows: Cardone; Palacios, Okiomah, Trialist, Dunker*; Castillo, Salazar, Garcia, Alvarez; Sanchez, Johnson.
This formation allowed JJ and Manolo to play up top together with Carlos Alvarez playing an attacking midfielder position. With three terrific attacking options in Manolo, JJ, and Chin, I would expect to see at least 2, if not 3 forwards in whatever formation SAFC unleashes at Seattle at the season opener. Of course with Chin being played as far back as he was in the St. Ed’s game, maybe we’ll end up seeing Manolo and JJ as the primary strikers.
Both goals came shortly after free kicks. The first was a Carlos Alvarez free kick that bounced off the post before being put in the back of the net by Jason Johnson. The second was angled in by a trialist from a Rafa free kick. The full recap can be found on the team’s website here.
The asterisk by Dunker’s name is because he is still listed as a trialist by SAFC. If you’re not sure who he is, that’s ok because he hasn’t been announced as a player on the roster. In a picture posted to social media, the lineup board has “Dunker” in the left back position, even though that position is deemed a trialist in official releases. Spurs Sports and Entertainment do not comment on potential signings.
We assume Dunker is Austin Dunker, a former Elon University stand-out and member of Seattle’s U-23 PDL side. As always, we’ll keep an eye out for official word. Not everybody gets their name on a magnet so its a safe bet that we’ll be seeing Austin around this season.
So after three friendlies we’ve seen 3 completely different formations, lineups, and final scores. This isn’t shocking as its exactly what pre-season friendlies are for, but if you’re already a die-hard fan of SAFC you’re probably counting down the days along with us until we get to see the team in real action.
The next friendly is an inter-squad scrimmage on March 12th. Like all of the pre-season friendlies, its closed to the public due to ongoing renovations to Toyota Field. Media are permitted, so we’ll be in attendance for as many as possible. Follow the social media accounts (@PitchBlackNews / @MLSinSA) for the latest updates.