Image: San Antonio FC
Despite being one of only seven newcomers to the squad, defender Chris Christian is acclimating to and even enjoying life at San Antonio FC already.
Before joining SAFC for 2018, Christian spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons with Sacramento Republic FC, accumulating nearly 6,000 minutes with the club over 64 matches in all competitions. He helped lead the team to a first-place finish in the USL Western Conference in 2016, led the team with 94 clearances and 66 interceptions in 2017 (regular season and playoffs) and made a USL Team of the Week appearance in each season.
The club he’s coming from is certainly no slouch – one of the best attendances in the USL, consistent competitiveness, local support, etc – but when SAFC came knocking, he saw it as the right opportunity for the next step in his career.
“This is easily one of the top teams in the league, and when they approach you it becomes an easy decision because it’s a good challenge for yourself and it allows you to play with quality players,” Christian said.
The culture of the team, as well as the good reputation for soccer extending back to before SAFC’s inauguration, is what Christian said drew him in. He has heard good things from guys he knew who played here, and they were always a formidable opponent in his experience.
Christian added he felt welcomed by the coaching staff, trainers, front office, fans and his fellow players, with whom he’s already enjoying friendly locker room banter.
“Everyone has been supportive, everyone has made the transition easier.”
Christian seems excited about his new home field as well. His first experience at Toyota Field didn’t go so well on May 6, 2017, as he played all 90 minutes of Republic FC’s 1-0 loss away to SAFC, but now he’ll have the home field advantage behind him, and he thinks that’s a pretty powerful force.
“It’s a well-built stadium,” Christian said. “I like that the fans are right on top of the field, and I think the intensity of the players, combined with the passion from the fans, makes it probably the toughest venue to play in on this side (of the league), if not the whole USL.”
Christian didn’t need more than a couple matches at Toyota Field (if you include training and scrimmages) to realize perhaps its greatest strength: the intimacy. In fact, despite his two years at Sacramento, where he played in front of more fans, on average, than Toyota Field can even hold, he said Toyota Field’s intimacy adds a new, powerful dimension to SAFC’s home field advantage.
The first true match for Christian as a home player at Toyota Field is this Saturday as Saint Louis FC visits Texas for the second week running. SAFC has drawn more than 8,000 fans to their home opener in each of their first two seasons of existence, so Christian and the six other new players will likely get to see Toyota Field at or at least near its best. On the field, in the stands, at training, in the office…wherever he may be, Christian seems to be enjoying all aspects of his new SAFC family.