Featured image: Darren Abate / USL
Coming off a 0-3 loss at home to Orange County and a vanilla 0-0 draw in Fresno, San Antonio FC took a dominant 3-1 victory over Las Vegas Lights FC in Sin City.
Before SAFC turned out the Lights, SA had only scored one goal in the entire rest of the month of April. Thursday afternoon the club announced Kris Tyrpak had departed the club, a surprise to fans, after a disappointing red card finale in Fresno. Yet the Alamo City banked 3 goals on the road.
How? Can they do it again? Is it safe to give out Infinity War spoilers yet?
I’ll do my best to get into the first two of those questions and leave the third for next week.
San Antonio’s first goal came off the foot of Ever Guzman, with an assist by Sonny Guadarrama and a pass from Darnell King to get it there.
The run to San Antonio’s second goal started with a long pass by Connor Presley to Darnell King, with King finding Jose Escalante in front of goal to put it in.
San Antonio’s third goal came from a Rafa Castillo penalty kick, so we wont focus much on that other than to say Rafa does magic from the spot.
Can they do it again?
The two goals from open play both involved some long passing from goalkeeper Diego Restrepo and the SAFC midfield. They both arose from SAFC finding Vegas defenders leaving critical parts of their side of the field open. That was a Vegas problem that San Antonio exploited. It’s hard to bank on that week in and week out.
What is repeatable is the apparent complete change in philosophy the SA squad took in Vegas.
Before the Vegas match, everything SAFC did in 2018 ran through either the central defenders or Restrepo. Everything. Midfielders consistently passed back to the CBs to start the attack from the back of the formation.
In Vegas, SAFC attacked with speed.
The counter attack of 2017 was back on full display as midfielders and full backs drove the ball forward with pace, along with Restrepo consistently kicking the ball coast to coast instead of a short pass to his back line.
One easy way to see this is by looking at the center back pairing’s passes in Vegas compared to the previous two matches:
The SAFC center backs had almost half as many passes in Vegas as they did in either one of the previous two matches. The two Ryans were less involved with the attack, staying back to defend as Restrepo found ways to get the ball to midfielders.
One interesting thing found in the average positioning of SAFC players in Vegas is that defensive midfielder Pecka played closer to the SAFC goal than full back Darnell King.
The formation at times almost played out as a three-man backline as King and left back Greg Cochrane used their speed and attacking prowess to get involved on the opposite side of the pitch.
San Antonio FC is fully capable of repeating this performance, and even switching fluidly between the two styles as the season progresses.
The club will get a chance to test the new-look (old-look?) attacking style when Fresno FC visits Toyota Field on Saturday. It will be the second time the two clubs have met in the last two weeks.