San Antonio FC’s Lamar Hunt US Open run will begin Wednesday night with a trip to face Midland-Odessa Sockers FC at Grande Communications Stadium in the second round of the competition.
To set up their meeting with SAFC, Sockers FC defeated the Lakeland Tropics 3-0 at home on May 9 courtesy of a penalty kick and two long-distance strikes. They also opened their National Premier Soccer League season on Saturday with a 1-0 win away to FC Brownsville via a penalty kick.
Despite their lower-division status, Sockers FC has had not only a solid start to their 2018 season but achieved much in 2017 as well. In their first season in the NPSL, they were national runners-up after winning both their conference and region. In 2016, they made it to the USL Premier Development League semifinals and won their conference.
“If anything, we actually have to bring a more professional performance (in Wednesday’s match),” said SAFC defender Chris Christian. “These games are always tricky, you never know what can happen and I’m sure they’re looking to bring their best effort and put their best foot forward, so we have to do the same.”
SAFC has had a decent start to the USL season and enters Wednesday’s match unbeaten in four in USL play, winning and drawing two apiece in that span. They’ll want to win Wednesday’s match outright though for multiple reasons, most notably that they lost three penalty kick shootouts in 2017, including in the third round of the Open Cup against Tulsa Roughnecks FC.
The team for Wednesday’s Open Cup match will likely look quite different as SAFC rests some regulars and replaces them with squad players. While the collective goal is to win and advance, players will also hope a good performance can get them more (or any) minutes going forward.
“If you can execute in your role and do a really good job, then you’ll probably find yourself playing more regularly,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell. “From one week to the next, somebody’s form can change, so take advantage of your opportunity when you have it.”
While it is difficult to predict all the changes in the squad, most are likely to come in defense as midfielders Connor Presley and Cesar Elizondo as well as forward Ever Guzman are either still recovering or just returning from injuries, leaving SAFC with less opportunity for rotation up top. However, SAFC could always bring in a player or two temporarily like they did with defender Andrew Moulin for their first Open Cup match in 2017.
The winner of Wednesday’s match will host the next round on May 23 against the winner between Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and FC Denver.
Midland-Odessa Sockers FC (NPSL)
League record: 1-0-0 | Form: W | Previous league match: 1-0 at FC Brownsville | Previous Open Cup match: 3-0 vs Lakeland Tropics
San Antonio FC (USL)
League record: 3-2-4 | Form: LDWWD | Previous league match: 0-0 at Rio Grande Valley FC | Previous Open Cup match: 0-0 (6-7 on PKs) at Tulsa Roughnecks FC (2017)
Two Ten Soccer Projected Starting XI
Cardone; Rodriguez, Christian, McCarthy, Seth; Cuomo, Roushandel; Murphy, Lopez, Escalante; Bruce
Jonathan Check: Sockers FC 1-2 SAFC
Jesus Miguel Garcia: Sockers FC 1-2 SAFC
Jose Mario Jimenez: Sockers FC 0-1 SAFC
Larry Leathers: Sockers FC 0-3 SAFC
Kyle Mahnke: Sockers FC 0-2 SAFC
How to watch: mycujoo via US Soccer site, 7:30pm CT
Follow along on Twitter: #USOC2018 @TwoTenSoccer @checkjfooty @LarryLeathers87 @Kyle_Mahnke