San Antonio FC returns to play this Friday night when they will travel to take on RGV-FC. This will be the first match for SAFC since the Covid-19 Pandemic swept the USA back in March, causing a four-month pause in USL Championship play. RGV FC played away to El Paso last weekend, losing 1-0.
With the new schedule came new groupings and a new format. The league has been divided into 8 Groups, some with 4 teams, some with 5 teams. Eight Group Winners and Eight Group Runners-Up will ultimately advance to the playoffs, so the new goal is simple. Finish top two in your respective Group.
For SAFC and RGV FC, it’s a 5-team group that also includes Austin, OKC and Tulsa. They’ll be known as Group D. Those teams will play the majority of their remaining games against each other. For SAFC, 14 of their remaining 15 games will be against Group D teams, with one game to be played against El Paso. There have also been adjustments to in-game substitutions. Teams will now be able to use 5 substitutions per game, up from the typical 3, for the remainder of 2020.
With the newly revised schedule, it also means that 2020 will be a bit of a 2016 throwback between these two Texas rivals. They met 4 times in that inaugural season. They’ll meet 4 more times again this year. RGV is already the most common opponent for SAFC in their history (12 meetings) and that advantage will be well padded by the end of 2020.These teams will once again be intimately familiar with each come September.
Hopefully 2020 will go better for SAFC than things went in 2016. In four meetings against RGV in 2016, SAFC lost three times and only managed one point, drawing at home 0-0 in their second meeting ever. More recently, SAFC has not defeated RGV since August 2018, a span of three matches and counting. Overall, SAFC only has three wins vs RGV out of 12 total meetings.
Unfortunately, one other side effect of the Covid postponement and reschedule is that Copa Tejas, the All-Texas Regular Season Cup Tournament, had to be abandoned for 2020. This was due in large part to El Paso being put into a different group than the other Texas teams, creating a schedule imbalance. As such, this meeting against RGV and all other 2020 Texas matchups for SAFC will not carry that additional meaning.
It seems like every year there is player movement from RGV to San Antonio and this year is no different as Midfielder Jesus Enriquez joined SAFC in the offseason. Enriquez talked about training and getting extra time ahead of their first match back saying, “The bye week will help us a lot. Help us get more fit, help us play together a little more, because we haven’t, so I’m pretty happy about getting that extra week. We’re looking good. I feel good. We’re ready to go.”
As for RGV FC – here is how they lined up over the weekend against El Paso.
Offensively RGV hasn’t generated much thus far. RGV has only managed 1 goal after two completed matches in 2020 – that came by way of Luka Prpa. He also leads the team in chances created with 7. The lone assist for the team belongs to Juan Carlos Obregon Jr. who also leads the team in shots with 4.
Defensively, last weekend was a huge improvement from their game in March where they were thrashed by LA Galaxy II by a score of 5-1. In goal for RGV it has been Paul Blanchette with the nod in the first two matches, putting up 6 saves but also allowing the 6 goals. They’re obviously going to have to improve at both ends of the field if they want a real chance of getting out of Group D and into the playoffs.
For SAFC, these next two matches against RGV present a big opportunity. Win twice and they will have essentially put RGV deep in their rearview mirror before the first month of the season is completed. That would be one heck of a way to start Group play. SAFC only needs to outlast 3 teams in their Group. Stepping on the throat of one of those teams right out of the gate would be a huge advantage for the silver and black.
There will be no fans at the game at HEB Park this weekend out of an abundance of caution due to the ongoing pandemic. But given everything that has occurred in the last few months, fans will no doubt be happy just to see SAFC football again. A much-welcomed distraction from our current reality. Positive results will be a bonus. So, here’s to USL Championship and SAFC football – welcome back, fans – and enjoy the game.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (1-0-0, 3 points) at RGV FC (0-0-2, 0 points)
HEB Park, Friday July 17th, 2020
Kickoff 8:00pm Central Time
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC - 2020 Away Record 0-0-0
RGV FC – 2020 Home Record 0-0-1
All Time History (W-D-L)
Friday will mark the 13th all-time meeting between the two clubs. RGV FC is the most common league opponent for SAFC in their history. After RGV FC won 4 of the first 6 matches between these two clubs, San Antonio has improved in the matchup, but RGV maintains the edge in this series. All time SAFC is 3-4-5 against their Texas rivals with RGV leading the series 19 points to 13.
7/17/20 @ RGV
7/25/20 @ SA
8/29/20 @ RGV
9/5/20 @ SA
San Antonio and RGV played to a 2-2 draw last August at Toyota Field. Jack Barmby and Crisitian Parano both scored in the first half for San Antonio and Fuenmayor was Red Carded for the visitors in the 11th minute. RGV overcame all of that to earn the draw in a frustrating match for SAFC that also featured an Ackon own-goal.
Here are the match highlights:
SAFC Wins If :
…if the new look SAFC squad can pick up where they left off in March when they played a solid all around debut game in a victory over the Defending Champions of USL, Real Monarchs.
IMAGES: SAFC TWITTER, RGV-FC TWITTER
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE – INSTAGRAM @PEAKACTION, AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN