San Antonio FC has been questionably omitted from one of the United Soccer League’s weekly recognitions for the second week in a row after Josh Ford was shockingly left off the USL Team of the Week, announced Tuesday.
The first snub came last week when Rafa Castillo’s clever heel flick to Danny Garcia early in the 0-1 loss to OKC Energy FC on May 21 was left off the USL’s short compilation of impressive skills.
— San Antonio FC (@SanAntonioFC) May 24, 2016
It’s perhaps a bit understandable the USL would overlook that clever trick though, given SAFC ultimately lost the match. Still, you can’t ignore a great skill just because the player found himself on the wrong side of the result – it’s about great individual moments, not the result.
That questionable omission was nothing compared to the most recent though. After a phenomenal performance in the 0-0 draw against the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros on May 25, tallying six saves and being a huge factor in the team’s first clean sheet since April 3, SAFC was quite confident Josh Ford would grab the goalkeeper slot on the USL Team of the Week.
— San Antonio FC (@SanAntonioFC) May 26, 2016
Ford had what may be the best performance in an SAFC shirt so far in their short history…but he didn’t end up on the USL Team of the Week.
— San Antonio FC (@SanAntonioFC) May 31, 2016
The spot instead went to FC Montreal’s Max Crepeau, who recorded ten saves in his side’s 2-1 win over the Richmond Kickers on Saturday. The result gave FC Montreal its first points of the season after losing their first eight games.
Basically everyone who follows SAFC closely, including myself, was understandably outraged. My initial reaction was reinforced by the highlights of the game which earned Crepeau his Team of the Week spot. Crepeau’s only positive contributions here are a saved penalty kick, followed by another stop off the rebound, and a very routine save later on.
That’s the easy, knee-jerk reaction: compare a full 90-minute performance by Ford to the selected clippings of Crepeau in the above three-minute video and think I’m qualified to compare the two…so to make myself properly qualified to compare Ford and Crepeau’s performances, I watched the full match between the Kickers and FC Montreal.
Looking at Richmond’s two best chances, there wasn’t really anything Crepeau could have done about the Kickers’ only goal. His defense let him down massively and left him all the work to do before Brian Ownby nudged the ball past him in the 87th minute.
As far as the penalty kick awarded to the Kickers in the 77th minute, Crepeau certainly did well in that moment by saving the initial spot kick by Jason Yeisley and the follow-up shot by Samuel Asante. That moment on its own was definitely something worthy of being put in the spotlight by the USL.
Besides that though, Crepeau doesn’t have me convinced at all by his performance throughout the whole game. If anything, I was more unconvinced of Crepeau’s selection after watching the full 90 minutes. Here are a few reasons why:
- While Crepeau made more saves than Ford, most of his were routine or otherwise didn’t require much more than simply grabbing a slow-moving ball close to him.
- Crepeau was nowhere near as strong or commanding in and around his goal as Ford. He missed multiple opportunities to give the ball a good punch or safely clutch it and snuff out danger, letting his defense do some of the hard work instead. He also found himself exhibiting less-than-optimal positioning on one or two occasions.
- While most of the noteworthy action for Crepeau – the saved penalty and conceded goal in particular – came in the second half, he could have been sent off in the 33rd minute after potentially handling the ball outside the 18-yard box. It’s hard to tell on the replay, but you can’t blame the commentators for bringing it up…
- Crepeau was, on at least two occasions, bailed out by shots hitting his post (to be fair, Ford had a shot go off the post against RGVFC as well, but we’re focusing on the merits of Crepeau’s selection here).
Meanwhile, Ford comes up with some spectacular saves, operates his 18-yard box with authority and gets his team a coveted clean sheet in the process…yet receives no award for it, even though he very arguably deserved it.
What makes this snub even more puzzling is the USL even put together a compilation of saves by both goalkeepers from last week’s scoreless Texas tussle, so they were well aware of Ford’s performance.
It seems the only possible explanation for Crepeau’s selection over Ford is that the USL is being sentimental. FC Montreal finally got something other than a loss, so let’s give them a metaphorical pat on the back by putting their goalkeeper, who had one moment of brilliance, in our Team of the Week instead of the guy who pulled off some spectacular saves and was the main factor in a hard-fought clean sheet for his team.
The two snubs of SAFC by the USL, particularly Josh Ford’s this week, should bring up at least a few questions. Is the USL putting sentiment and kindness over honesty by selecting Crepeau over Ford? Is there a bit of a bias against SAFC by the USL? I’m not implying those questions are true statements or anything, but questions need to be asked and discussions need to happen.
Castillo and Ford won’t be bothered by their recent snubs – they’re the only two players to have worn the captain’s armband, both deservedly given their leadership qualities, for SAFC so far and are two of the most respectful, professional players on the roster, plus they’re wise enough to be focused on the team’s accomplishments rather than their own.
Just because these individual awards come second to results though, it doesn’t mean we should let the USL’s questionable omissions of SAFC go unnoticed.