San Antonio FC will play a first-year USL club for the third match in a row Saturday night, though Fresno FC’s visit to Toyota Field is the first time SAFC hosts a newbie at Toyota Field in 2018.
The sides met for the first time ever at Chukchansi Park on April 22 – just 13 days ago – in a scoreless draw with Fresno FC on the attack much more often. SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo earned a USL Team of the Week spot for his six saves and shutout against the Foxes.
In the intervening week, SAFC found success on the counter in a 3-1 away win against Las Vegas Lights FC on April 27. The next day, Fresno conceded late to draw 1-1 away to a Phoenix Rising FC side who played with 10 men for most of the match.
Like Las Vegas, Fresno has scored and been scored on often in their inaugural season, but most of that came at home for Fresno. Assuming they’re more cautious in their approach on the road, SAFC will find it harder to hit Fresno on the counter like they did in Vegas – which wouldn’t come as a surprise to SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell.
“It’s very important that we look at different ways to break the opposition down, and that’s what we spend our time on the training field doing, and then it’s a matter of we created the chances, now you have to execute and you have to put the ball into the back of the net.”
In addition to the venue and tactics changing from two weeks ago, there are also personnel differences for both sides. Fresno will have midfielder Rony Argueta and defender Ramon Martin Del Campo again after they served one-match suspensions during the match with SAFC for red cards received in the previous match. However, they will be without midfielder Juan Pablo Caffa, who was injured in Phoenix and did not travel with the team to San Antonio.
SAFC, on the other hand, will likely be without forward Ever Guzman and midfielder Connor Presley after both were injured in the match in Las Vegas and were not full participants in SAFC training Thursday. SAFC is also now without midfielder Kris Tyrpak, whose last action was being sent off 13 minutes after being substituted on in the first match against Fresno.
Guzman’s injury likely means a home debut and first professional start for forward Alex Bruce, who has only appeared off the bench in matches away to Sacramento Republic FC and Las Vegas.
“Obviously, it’s not the way I want to get my chance, seeing Ever (Guzman) go down…but whenever I need to step up, I’ll step up and do the job.”
Bruce probably won’t be able to wrestle the starting spot away from a fit Guzman unless he has a spectacular performance, but he could make his case for more time and therefore more experience. A friend of his, it wasn’t that long ago Presley was just a promising young talent at SAFC, yet he’s now established himself in the side and earned meaningful playing time in 2018.
San Antonio FC
Record: 2-2-3 | Form: DDLDW | Previous match: 3-1 at Las Vegas Lights FC
Record: 2-1-5 | Form: WDDDD | Previous match: 1-1 at Phoenix Rising FC
Two Ten Soccer Projected Starting XI
Jonathan Check: San Antonio 1-1 Fresno FC
Jesus Miguel Garcia: San Antonio 1-0 Fresno FC
Jose Mario Jimenez: San Antonio 0-0 Fresno FC
Larry Leathers: San Antonio 1-1 Fresno FC
Kyle Mahnke: San Antonio 0-0 Fresno FC
How to watch: ESPN+ (online, subscription required), 7:30pm central
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