Image: San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC midfielder Ryan Roushandel has been named club captain for the 2018 season, per a club release Monday night.
Since joining the club in the inaugural 2016 season, Roushandel has also spent time as a defender, emergency goalkeeper, and occasional broadcast color commentator for the senior team and coach for the SAFC academy. He becomes the sixth player to captain the Alamo City club (Josh Ford, Michael Reed, Sebastien Ibeagha, Rafa Castillo, Greg Cochrane).
With the departure of Michael Reed for Nashville SC and Sebastien Ibeagha’s uncertain future with NYCFC, there was speculation on who would get the armband first in 2018. All-time minutes leader Greg Cochrane was among the strongest candidates with Rafa Castillo’s role in a talented central midfield in question. Defender Stephen McCarthy and midfielder Cesar Elizondo have also been with the club since the 2016 season, along with expected backup goalkeepers Matt Cardone and Lee Johnston.
The biggest question mark surrounding Roushandel was how he would be used in 2018. In 2016 he was listed as a center back and landed as the apparent 4th choice behind McCarthy, Sam McBride, and Biko Bradnock-Brennan. Roushandel found himself in a more favorable situation in 2017 when the newly signed Cyprian Hedrick was forced to miss time, moving Roushandel into the 3rd choice slot behind McCarthy and Ibeagha.
The true turning point in both Roushandel’s and SAFC’s 2017 season came when he was deployed as a number 6. While many fans and media were skeptical (including myself if we’re being honest), Roushandel put in consistently productive shifts as a defensive midfielder. Usual starter Pecka is solid at the position, but Roushandel’s size and center back background enable him to shift back as a third center back when called upon. His versatility worked out well paired with the talents of Ibeagha and Cochrane who are able to start a counterattack themselves.
An absolute highlight of the 2017 SAFC season was Roushandel’s lone goal of the year. While the goal itself was impressive, the reaction from the stands following the score is what made everything so special. After scoring, Roushandel found a sea of excitement in the stands as the SAFC academy players ran to the railing to celebrate their coach’s goal.
YES Coach! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/nTage6ifjM
— SAFC Pro Academy (@SAFCProAcademy) February 13, 2018
In what we’ve seen in the media sections of preseason training, preseason matches, and written releases, it appears Roushandel not only is being considered a midfielder, but is also the first choice number 6 ahead of Pecka and Maxi Rodriguez. The selection as captain seems to fit that expectation.
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