image: San Antonio FC
The scoring drought is over.
— USL (@USL) June 12, 2016
San Antonio FC (2-5-5) earned a point in their 1-1 draw on the road against Portland Timbers 2 (5-6-2). With MLS on a break for Copa America, eight of Portland’s 11 starting players Saturday night were on MLS contracts. But that didn’t stop the unaffiliated visitors from giving the home club a run for their money.
The match was physical from the first whistle to the last, almost surprisingly so for two clubs who have never played a match against each other. The match saw Portland earn three yellow cards, a straight red card, and a stern warning of possible ejection for the head coach. San Antonio’s Ford, Thuriere, Francois, and Alvarez each earned a yellow card.
The real shift came when T2 subbed off three MLS contract players in the 60th minute, presumably a planned sub meant to limit the first team players’ workload. SAFC went to work on the attack, aggressively earning corners and creating chances. In the 83rd minute, T2’s Kharlton Belmar was sent off with a questionable straight red card stemming from a collision with SAFC captain and goalkeeper Josh Ford. The impact saw Ford take several minutes of being examined by a trainer before standing up and continuing on with the match. The injury appeared to be a lower leg injury.
In the 87th minute, SAFC defender Milton Palacios made his first shot of the season count as he took advantage of a corner kick netting the club’s equalizing goal.
The next challenge for the Alamo city will be in the U.S. Open Cup as the boys travel to Houston Wednesday to face MLS club Houston Dynamo. We expect the Dynamo to field a squad of mostly RGV and lower depth chart players as Houston gets back to MLS action Saturday against DC United, but we’ll see what the bottom of the table club has planned soon enough.
San Antonio FC at Portland Timbers 2
SAFC Starting XI: Ford (c); Palacios, Bradnock-Brennan, McBride, Cochrane; Thuriere (Castillo), Reed, Alvarez; Chin (Francois), Johnson, Garcia (Araujo)
Unused subs: Cardone, McCarthy, Salazar, Okiomah
As discussed on the podcast, finishing is still an issue with this club. It likely will be until SAFC is able to sign a player with that skill set, but in the mean time look for goals to come from all over the place. Players like JJ, Araujo, Garcia, and Francois (among many others) are solid in open field play and beating defenders, but they haven’t shown the ability to play off of each other and finish chances created by other players consistently. Defense is solid, but there’s no sign that finishing will improve until the position can be reinforced.
Fejiro Okiomah is off the injury list and was available as a sub. The athletic Austin native was brought in as a defender, but has mostly been deployed as a striker. His return is great news for SAFC. Unfortunately, forward Manolo Sanchez has landed on the injury report following a stint with the Puerto Rico National Team. His injury couldn’t have come at a worse time with SAFC needing players who can generate goals.
Hopefully Ford’s collision won’t force him to miss time. He spent lots of time on the ground receiving training before finishing out the game. If he is forced to miss time, look for SA native Matt Cardone to step between the posts in the captain’s place.
Finally, earning a 1-1 draw on the road is a good thing. Until the attack can be worked out or more players brought in, getting road points is something worth celebrating. Hopefully SAFC can build on this personal victory against Houston and home to Toyota Field as they play on Wednesday and Saturday.