San Antonio FC will welcome Phoenix Rising FC to Toyota Field on Saturday night just 17 days after the clubs’ first and only other meeting of the 2018 regular season.
That first match ended in an embarrassing 4-0 loss for SAFC, their worst league defeat in club history, and it was part of a four-match losing skid which they’ve now rebounded from with two wins. While he didn’t do it all himself, midfielder Lance Laing’s addition after that match seemed to spark SAFC back to life as they chase a playoff berth – with just three SAFC appearances under his belt, Laing already has two goals and two assists.
“He’s come in with a professional attitude from day one,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell. “He’s a fun character to be around, he’s performing well on the field and he’s a good locker room person and seems to get along with everybody on the team.”
Midfielder Connor Presley added that Laing’s experience in the game makes him a valuable asset to the team, both on and off the pitch. Particularly with playing a similar position, there should be plenty of advice Laing can pass on to players like Presley.
Phoenix has been doing well as of late too though, and for a bit longer. For one, they’ve scored 13 unanswered goals dating back five matches, albeit thanks to lesser opposition and/or home field advantage. They’ve also won six of their last eight matches, the two losses mixed in coming against Real Monarchs SLC and Orange County SC, the two teams alongside Phoenix at the top of the USL Western Conference standings.
Phoenix clearly has the firepower to blow SAFC away, but SAFC has started to show signs of life again, ground out a win away to the top team in the USL West just five days ago and has home field advantage on their side. Interestingly, while there are arguments for the match going either way, it’s unlikely they’ll share the spoils as neither side has drawn a match in over two months now.
This is perhaps the toughest of SAFC’s seven remaining matches so a result may be tricky, but they won’t want to lose ground in the race to sneak into the playoffs after a rollercoaster season.
San Antonio FC
Record: 11-9-7 (40 pts, 8th place) | Form: LLLWW | Previous match: 2-1 win at Real Monarchs SLC
Card Accumulation Warnings: Cesar Elizondo – 4, Darnell King – 10
Phoenix Rising FC
Record: 16-6-5 (53 pts, 2nd place) | Form: LWWWW | Previous match: 1-0 win vs Rio Grande Valley FC
Card Accumulation Warnings: Mike da Fonte – 4
Two Ten Soccer Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Cardone; King, Hernandez, Hedrick, Cochrane; Lopez, Ward; Presley, Murphy, Laing; Guzman
Jonathan Check: SAFC 1-2 Phoenix
Larry Leathers: SAFC ?-? Phoenix
Jose Mario Jimenez: SAFC 2-2 Phoenix
Kyle Mahnke: SAFC 2-2 Phoenix
How to watch: ESPN+, 7:30 p.m. CT
Follow along on social media: #SAvPHX @TwoTenSoccer @checkjfooty @LarryLeathers87 @Kyle_Mahnke