Images: Darren Abate / USL
San Antonio FC (5-5-7, 22 pts, 11th place) is set to take on western conference powerhouse Real Monarchs Salt Lake City (13-4-2, 41 pts, 1st place) Saturday night at Toyota Field.
Salt Lake City has dominated the West in the regular season since early 2017, but surprisingly SAFC earned a 2-1 win in Utah and a 2-2 draw at home against the club last season.
Salt Lake City entered the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs as the top seeded team in the West, but fell in penalties in a surprise first round upset to 8 seed Sacramento Republic. SLC is back to their winning ways in 2018, led by familiar faces Chandler Hoffman and Sebastian Velasquez.
For San Antonio, the match marks the start to the second half of their USL season. Will the club find consistency in performance and squad selection? Will the defensive struggles be corrected? Will the club be able to finish some of the many chances they create? The answers start coming Saturday night.
SAFC Quotes from this week:
Stephen McCarthy on the depth of SAFC’s squad:
“Competition is always healthy and there’s a lot of competition right now, there’s spots up for grabs all over and there’s a lot of players playing really well that deserve minutes. We’ve really seen a lot of young guys doing really, really well and stepping up, so that’s really encouraging to see.”
…on SAFC’s mentality facing the first-placed team in the league:
“We try to focus on ourselves but of course it’s in the back of your mind that they’re an incredible team, so you want to be fully prepared, do all the little things right to get ready for the game.”
Darren Powell on the depth of SAFC’s squad:
We’ve got lots of players that can contribute to this team at any given moment and I think the more experience they can get, then when their moment is called upon, they’re ready to go and hopefully continue to improve upon each and every performance.”
“Their position in the standings is irrelevant to us as a team,” SAFC Midfielder Charlie Ward said. “We look at every opponent the same, whether they’re in first or last place, we’ll treat them with respect. We’re looking to win every game and it’s important to get a win at home in front of our fans and get on a good run. There are 17 games left and we have time to really do something with our season and make a push for the playoffs.”
Real Monarchs SLC
Form: 13-4-2, WWLDW, previous match 2-0 vs Seattle Sounders FC 2
Card Accumulation Warnings: none
San Antonio FC
Form: 5-5-7 WLDDL, previous match 0-3 loss vs Orange County SC
Card Accumulation Warnings: Cesar Elizondo (4), Jose Escalante(4), Pecka(4), Diego Restrepo (4)
Two Ten Soccer Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1) Restrepo; King, McCarthy, Felix, Cochrane; Roushandel, Ward; Murphy, Lopez, Elizondo; Guzman
Images: San Antonio FC, RGVFC
Jonathan Check: San Antonio 0-3 Salt Lake City
Larry Leathers: San Antonio – Salt Lake City
Jose Mario Jimenez: San Antonio 1-1 Salt Lake City
Kyle Mahnke: San Antonio 1-1 Salt Lake City
How to watch: ESPN+ (?) / Fox Sports Southwest / Fox Sports Go, 7:30 pm central time
Follow along on social media: #SAv @TwoTenSoccer @CheckJFooty @LarryLeathers87 @Kyle_Mahnke