San Antonio FC heads back out on the road this weekend for the first of three straight away matches to begin August as they will travel to face Austin Bold on Saturday night. The good news for SAFC is that after this stretch of road games, 6 of their final 10 games will be at Toyota Field where so far they have two wins in two games.
SAFC earned that second win last weekend thanks to a second half goal from Forward Gonzalo Di Renzo, his first in a SAFC uniform. Di Renzo is the third goal scorer for SAFC on the young season. "I think we had deserved it for a while. We created a lot of clear chances that didn't go our way, so fortunately Cristian took the ball, we went to goal and it ended with a goal."
Di Renzo was referring to Cristian Parano’s Assist that sprung him for the goal. Parano is off to another hot start with a Goal and an Assist in his first two games. He is the only SAFC player with at least one of each so far in 2020. Parano was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week on Tuesday for his performance in the victory.
Still, Manager Alen Marcina knows the one goal per game pace so far isn’t where he wants his club to be. “We need to continue to do what we were doing and at the same time be more intense. We have to be a little more ruthless in the attacking third.”
Defensively, things are looking very strong for SAFC in the early going. Maybe even shades of the stellar group in 2017 who led SAFC to their last playoff birth. Granted they have only played 3 games, but so far no one has surrendered fewer goals in all of USL Championship than SAFC’s one. Only Orange County match their leading total.
Both starting Keepers for SAFC have a clean sheet to their name but it seems that loanee Dayne St Clair may have wrestled away the starting job from incumbent Matt Cardone. St Clair has started both games for SAFC since the restart, notching 3 saves and only allowing the one conceded goal. Which by the way was a pretty impressive strike, to be fair to St Clair.
In the back Mitchell Taintor paves the way with 11 clearances, followed by Connor Maloney’s 7 to lead the new look back line for SAFC. And that is after losing Centre Back Axel Sjoberg to his parent club, MLS’ Columbus Crew, during the season pause. In one match Sjoberg looked to be a massive addition to the team (he had 6 clearances is his only SAFC appearance) but so far the other new faces are contributing positively, too.
Taintor talked about the difference between the two RGV games in the game’s closing minutes. “We found ourselves in a similar situation being up 1-0 with 10 minutes to go. We learned from last week, we bunkered down, we didn’t let up and we were hyper-focused in the last 10 minutes. That was huge and that was the difference for us.”
Austin comes into this match having not played since July 17th. Their last two scheduled matches were postponed due to positive Covid-19 tests in the organization. Reportedly two more players tested positive for Covid-19 this week bringing their total number of positive cases as an organization to five. As a result, the match on Saturday night will only be their second game since the season re-start. As of this writing the match against SAFC is still set to be played as scheduled, but any last minute postponements shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Especially after two more USL Championship matches were postponed on Wednesday night, raising the total number of league wide postponed games to 9 since the restart.
There are a lot of familiar names to SAFC on the Austin roster. Diego Restrepo in in his second season as the starting Keeper for the Bold, as are Forward Kris Tyrpak and Midfielder Sonny Guadarrama. For 2020 they have been joined by former SAFC fan favorite Billy Forbes at Forward. The growing player ties between the two clubs should only enhance what is already a natural rivalry between the two cities.
However, Austin is dealing with some big player losses for the season as three players, including the aforementioned Tyrpak, have decided not to participate in 2020 due to health and safety reasons. Joining him on the sidelines are Andre Lima, the Bold’s leading scorer from 2019, and Defender Edson Braafheid. Tyrpak and Braafheid both have pregnant wives, with the latter saying he plans to return to the Bold after the birth of his child, who is due sometime in August.
Even though Copa Tejas is not being contested in 2020, Austin Bold holds the trophy and that alone should also fan the flames of the rivalry fire. As will the fact that these teams will play four matches against each other in 2020 – twice the expected amount – thanks to the revised scheduling.
For the Bold, it will be their third home match of 2020, and their next one after SAFC is also at home. That leaves a daunting remaining schedule for Austin. The Bold will finish their run-out with only 4 home games in their final 12 matches. That would be a tough task even in normal times. It could be even more challenging while taking Covid precautions along the way.
In the early going only Lima and Guadarrama have goals for the Bold and as mentioned, Lima is no longer around. Omar Ciss has the team’s only assist. As a team their conversion rate on Offense is a middle of the road 15%, but it’s still better than SAFC who come into this match at only 10%. Austin (77%) has a similar passing accuracy to SAFC (80%).
In goal, San Antonio fans will know that it’s all about Diego Restrepo. He has 5 saves in two appearances and one clean sheet so far in 2020.
Fabien Garcia leads the way with 9 clearances for the Bold on Defense and Jermaine Taylor is once again a focal point of the back line as well, with 8 clearances in the early going.
San Antonio FC are one of only three unbeaten teams left in USL Championship West and they are in a strong position at the top of Group D with games in hand. If they can continue to pad that advantage in the early going, then it will be four teams chasing them the rest of the way. What a nice change of pace that would be for a team looking for their first playoff birth in three seasons.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (2-1-0, 7 points)
at Austin Bold FC (1-0-1, 3 points)
Bold Stadium, Saturday August 1st, 2020
Kickoff 8:00pm Central Time
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC - 2020 Road Record (0-1-0)
Austin Bold FC– 2020 Home Record (1-0-1)
All Time History (W-D-L)
Saturday will mark the fourth meeting between these two teams. San Antonio has lost to Austin one time in both USL Championship play and in Open Cup play for an all-time record of 1-0-2 against the Bold. They are 1-0-1 in USL Championship play. SAFC has not won at Bold Stadium in two tries.
8/1/20 @ ATX
8/15/20 @ SA
9/16/20 @ SA
10/2/20 @ ATX
San Antonio FC dominated the Bold in their first appearance at Toyota Field last July, thrashing them 3-0 behind goals from Billy Forbes (now with the Bold) and Cristian Parano, plus an own goal from Okugo in the 8th minute.
Here are the match highlights:
SAFC Wins If :
…if they can take advantage of a team who are growing short on available players and one who hasn’t really gotten back into the season groove to this point. And if they can finally draw first blood at Bold Stadium.
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER, AUSTIN BOLD FC TWITTER
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE / INSTAGRAM: @PEAKACTION