image: San Antonio FC / USL
San Antonio FC announced the signing of forward Franck Tayou Thursday afternoon.
Tayou most recently played in the Major Arena Soccer League, where he earned the title of MVP for the 2015-2016 season after scoring an incredible 47 goals in 20 games. Tayou played at West Virginia University and the PDL before joining MASL.
At 6ft 2in, Tayou has a very large build which could prove to be one of the things SA needs. Forwards Jason Johnson and Manolo Sanchez are both listed at 6ft even. Defender Stephen McCarthy is the tallest outfield player at 6’4″, but rarely finds himself in a scoring situation outside of set pieces.
San Antonio FC has found itself struggling for goals in the inaugural season. While they are one of the best defensive teams in the league, the club has found itself scoreless in five of the twelve league matches played so far. The signing of Tayou is surely an attempt to fix the attack, but with Manolo Sanchez out in the previous two matches nursing an injury sustained with the Puerto Rican National Team and forward Shawn Chin being taken off Wednesday after a nasty landing on a garbage field in Houston’s MLS-level BBVA Stadium, there are plenty of question marks still remaining. Edit: After this article was posted, news broke of Shawn Chin fracturing his right tibial plateau in that match against Houston. The injury is expected to end his 2016 season.
If Sanchez and Chin miss time, more pressure will be put on Carlos Alvarez, Jason Johnson, and the rest of the platoon of midfield/forwards who have been successful moving the ball forward, but unable to finish drives cohesively. By plan or not, we saw experienced midfielder Michael Reed playing more forward against Houston than we ever have. Admitting that his role with the club was as a holding midfielder back in pre-season media days, seeing Reed moved up seems to show that the game plan is being adjusted.
The departure of defender Bobby Moseley is sure to have some rippling effects as well. One challenge is deploying a formation that keeps defender / “pretty much anywhere on the outside” player Greg Cochrane relevant, while not putting too much pressure on the opposite fullback, usually Milton Palacios, to play a style he is with which he’s uncomfortable. Cochrane has been one of SA’s biggest chance generators with his long crosses, but switching to a traditional 4-4-2 would impede his attacking play style in favor of another forward.
The question remains of how Tayou’s skills will translate back to the outdoor game. From an air conditioned arena to the San Antonio summer, there will surely be some adjustment period. But if the MASL legend can translate a fraction of his scoring power to USL play, San Antonio could start rising in the table very quickly.