San Antonio FC faced off against two college squads Saturday in preparation for the club’s 2018 USL season. St. Edwards University and UT RGV made the trip to Toyota Field to face off against the Alamo City club in two separate 70 minute matches.
The first match saw many expected SAFC starters play St. Edwards to a 3-1 victory, but more important than the result was the way the squad played together.
The image above has SAFC’s starting XI for the match. The only substitution came with roughly 5 minutes left in the match as Ethan Bryant replaced Kris Tyrpak.
The appearance was the 16 year old midfielder’s first with San Antonio FC, making Bryant the first academy product to earn minutes with the senior squad.
Tyrpak, Connor Presley, and Ever Guzman all found the back of the net in the match. Tyrpak’s goal came in the 12th minute as the winger let loose an absolute rocket of a shot from the top of the penalty area. Guzman’s came as Sonny Guadarrama drew the keeper off his line to the right of frame before completing a phenomenal pass resulting in the Guzman header. Presley notched the third goal late in the match, taking his shot from just off the left post and finding the opposite side of the net.
The standout of this match had to be Sonny Guadarrama. While he didn’t score, the midfielder orchestrated some phenomenal chances and was a crucial part of several team-oriented attacking runs. His play with Ever Guzman in particular was something special. Sonny plays the 10 role for the club arguably better than anyone else we’ve seen since San Antonio FC started in 2016. SAFC has always been dangerous from the wings, but the attacking prowess the club showed centrally in this match is an exciting offseason addition.
While Guadarrama stood out most as something “new and shiny,” SAFC’s defense stood predictably strong in the match even with a trialist at center back. Cochrane and King clogged the outside lanes like Matt Cardone’s sink drain after a shave. Pecka and newcomer Chris Christian along with Diego Restrepo also played the classics with a stout defensive outing. The trialist center back had some shaky moments, but seemed solid enough to potentially earn a contract. Again, what really stood out in this match was the team-based attacking. The squad relied less on highlight-reel solo runs to tally goals and instead found success playing off of each other.
The second match was a bit less eventful, though SAFC did top UT RGV 2-0. The starting XI is listed below, with substitutions in the 24th minute as a trialist came on for an apparently injured Maxi Rodriguez and with roughly three minutes left in the match as Alex Bruce replaced that same trialist.
This match was a little less poetic. There isn’t much use in documenting everything that didn’t land as planned, but the biggest issue was the lack of successful passes and flow on the attack. Gordon found himself driving the length of the pitch several times throughout the match but was unable to finish himself, instead opting to try to earn an assist.
The two goals came in unexpected moments. Elizondo’s goal came at a moment where it seemed 20 players had pulled up, but Elizondo tapped the ball in for it to be called a goal. With the constraints of a preseason friendly, an official explanation wasn’t obtained. The second goal came from Alex Bruce after UT RGV did their best to even things at the death, only to fall to a counter attack.
One interesting part of this match was seeing Mike Seth as a full back. Seth joined the club as a forward in the middle of the 2017 season, but with the success Ever Guzman has found and SAFC’s tendency to play lone striker formations, Seth’s ability to fill in as a full back might be his path to minutes in 2018. Seth does not have the speed Greg Cochrane has shown over the last two seasons, but his size makes him a formidable obstacle to attacking wingers. His size proved advantageous in this match as he was able to intercept a dangerous pass inside the penalty area, ending a promising UT RGV attacking run.
As a whole, the double-header day seemed productive for San Antonio FC. Fans will get an in-person look at the club when SAFC hosts in-state rivals RGV FC Toros on Friday, March 2nd.
As SAFC continues the march to the 2018 season, we’ll continue to bring you as much in depth analysis and team news as possible. You can follow along on social media @TwoTenSoccer