Only two more pre-season friendlies left and we’ll be ready for the regular season. Some clarity is coming through on who the best XI are, but we’ll see in April who actually gets the plane tickets to Seattle.
Below is the roster so far, with a few minor edits since the last time it was posted. Austin Dunker and Lee Johnson received contracts and Victor Araujo seems to be the next man up for the injured Shawn Chin.
Alternatively, a mostly complete roster can be found on the team’s website here.
Current projected starter: Ford
Josh Ford – 1
Ford comes to San Antonio from MLS side Orlando City SC. The 28 year old spent most of the 2015 season on loan to NASL’s Ft. Lauderdale Strikers where he made 16 starts. While its still very early, I expect to see Ford get the first chance between the posts this season. His experience exceeds the other potential keepers, and with the organization’s clear intent on winning games this season it makes sense to give the man with experience the first chance.
Matt Cardone – 0
Cordone is a Trinity graduate and San Antonio native. Having played for the San Antonio Scorpions last season, Cardone was a perfect candidate to be signed for the new club. The 22 year old has a size advantage over Ford, but with only 4 professional starts under his belt I don’t expect him to edge out Ford for the starting job in April. If Ford struggles or suffers an injury, Cardone is a solid backup with potential but hasn’t proven himself as a starter in his short professional career.
Lee Johnson – 13
The 23 year old Florida native played at University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University before making his way to San Antonio FC. Johnson will be the third option behind Ford and Cardone after a successful trial with the club.
Current projected starters: Gunderson, McCarthy, McBride, Cochrane
Greg Cochrane – 20
Cochrane has a very similar story as teammate Jason “JJ” Johnson. Both came most recently from Chicago Fire, while starting their careers at another MLS franchise. Cochrane’s path took a detour through Sweden where he was a trialist for a top division club before signing with SAFC for 2016. Cochrane started at left back for the first half of the scrimmage against Rayo OKC, and is expected to defend that position going into the season.
Max Gunderson – 19
After two stints with the Austin Aztex, Gunderson finds himself back in Texas with SAFC. The Nevada native played college ball at University of the Incarnate Word. The 26 year old made 27 appearances for Austin in 2015, primarily at right back. He’s expected to get the starting nod at right back, but will be fighting Palacios for that spot.
Sam McBride – 4
An Elon University alum, McBride played one year under San Antonio head coach Darren Powell when he held the same position at the university. McBride had a remarkable college career at a very good soccer program and is making his professional debut with SAFC. He has made a big splash this pre-season with the club and seems to be in a position battle with Fejiro for the second center back position.
Stephen McCarthy – 15
“Big Steve” comes to San Antonio from the top tier of Finnish soccer. Before his time with KuPS, the 27 year old Tar Heel played with New England Revolution. McCarthy started at CB in the scrimmage against Rayo OKC and is expected to hold that position along with Fejiro.
Fejiro Okiomah – 23
Fejiro (pronounced “Fe-jeer-oh” I’m told, not “Fe-Hear-oh”) is an Austin native who has years of experience in USL, both at the PDL and Pro levels. He spent 2015 with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds where he made 21 appearances and put 1 in the back of the net. Fejiro seems to be in a position battle with Sam McBride for the second center back position.
Milton Palacios – 2
Palacios is another name familiar to Scorpions fans. The 27 year old made 10 appearances for the NASL side in 2015. The Honduran has spent his entire American professional career in San Antonio, so he should pick up right where he left off last season coming back to Toyota Field. Palacios seems to be slipping in his attempt to win the starting right back position.
Austin Dunker – 22
As expected, because “not everyone gets a magnet,” Dunker got a contract after starting out as a trialist. He isn’t expected to win a job in the starting XI, but his experience both at Seattle’s U-23 side and at Elon University with some of his teammates will help him quickly get comfortable on his first USL team.
Current projected starters: Reed, Alvarez, Thuriere
Carlos Alvarez – 10
Alvarez was the first player signing that SAFC announced back on February 2nd. The 25 year old Los Angeles native spent most of the 2015 season on loan to USL’s Charlotte Independence, but was previously with Colorado Rapids and now-defunct Chivas USA. As with a handful of other players on SAFC’s roster, Alvarez being on such poor quality clubs (Chivas USA & Colorado) doesn’t reflect negatively on him as much as it does those clubs’ front offices. But coming from poorly managed clubs makes it difficult for the untrained eye to know what potential he holds.
Victor Araujo – 7
Araujo is a Trinity graduate that hails originally from Brazil. He played in second division Belgian soccer before coming to Trinity, but SAFC is his first American professional soccer club. Given the club’s wealth of experienced midfielders Araujo might be mostly used as a depth player initially, but no player would be signed to this roster if Powell and his staff didn’t believe they had something to contribute. Araujo has been used as a forward several times this pre-season and seems to be the most likely to take the third forward spot, if there is one, while Chin is injured.
Rafa Castillo – 16
A hero of the 2014 Scorpions NASL championship title and fan favorite, Castillo will look to continue to contribute at Toyota Field with the new club. At 35, he is the oldest player on the roster, but the Columbian still has some tread on the tires as evidenced in the media portions of training last week. He may not be on the field for too many more years, but the he’ll be exciting to watch for as long as he plays.
Danny Garcia – 11
Dallas born and FC Dallas bred, Garcia knows both Texas and professional soccer like the back of his hand. After spending the first 3 years of his professional career with his hometown MLS club, Garcia comes south to San Antonio looking to contribute to SAFC. The 22 year old spent some time on loan with Arizona United SC in 2015 and will look to bring that experience onto the pitch for SAFC. Garcia was used as a forward in the second half of the scrimmage against Rayo OKC.
Michael Reed – 8
Reed is an experienced midfielder hailing originally from Albuquerque where he also went to college at the University of New Mexico. Playing three seasons with former Scorpions rival Minnesota United FC and 2015 with Atlanta Silverbacks, the 28 year old brings significant experience with him to San Antonio.
Miguel Salazar – 28
Salazar has a similar story to defender Sam McBride, also coming directly from Elon University where SAFC head coach Darren Powell was head coach before his time with Orlando. Before his time at Elon, Salazar grew up in the RSL academy. The Tucson native is a player that Powell and company obviously see potential in, but a crowded midfield may have him seeing more minutes on the bench than on the pitch this year.
Sebastien Thuriere – 6
Thuriere joins SAFC after spending 2015 with Charleston Battery where he made 21 appearances and 9 starts. The 26 year old has also made at least 19 apperances with the Haitian national team. Powell specially said he sees Seba fitting in as a central midfielder in the club, and I would assume that his extensive experience will make him a contender for a spot in the starting XI in April.
Current projected starters: Sanchez, Johnson, Chin/Araujo
Shawn Chin – 17
Chin has been playing with NASL and USL clubs since graduating from University of South Florida in 2010. The 26 year old spent the last 2 seasons with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, helping to lead them to a 2014 NASL championship appearance.
Jason “JJ” Johnson – 18
Johnson was the first forward announced by SAFC. The 25 year old Jamaican spent 2015 with the Chicago Fire where he made 20 appearances. Coming off a season that saw Johnson’s MLS club finish at the bottom of the table, its tough to evaluate who has the edge between Chin and Johnson if Powell only plays one forward.
Manolo Sanchez – 9
Manolo is a late signing scored by SAFC. He comes most recently from New York Red Bulls and NYRB II. The 24 year old brings with him some international experience via the Puerto Rico national team, and of course loads of experience in MLS and USL from his 25 appearances last season.