MATCH PREVIEW: San Antonio FC at Colorado Switchbacks FC, 3/23/19

San Antonio FC hits the road for the first time this season as they head to Weidner Field in Colorado Springs to face Colorado Switchbacks FC for the first match of a two-game road trip. San Antonio FC is still licking their wounds from a two-match set to open the season that didn’t go according to plan. San Antonio only earned one point from the opening home stand and most troubling, did so by giving up 3 goals in back to back matches. That’s something that had never happened before to this club, not even last year when they lost four-straight in August or three-straight in September.

The one point through two games is the slowest start in team history.

It’s not going to be an easy environment for SAFC in Colorado. Not only have they never won there in three tries, they’ve only scored one goal. Total. That came last year when they managed a 1-1 draw, their first result in Colorado.

On the positive side, the offense played pretty well throughout much of the Portland match. They just weren’t creating the final touch, which is bound to happen sometimes. Laing was finding a lot of joy up the left wing all match long. Maybe too much as Forbes and Guzman didn’t have quite the same impact on the match as they did in the opener against Phoenix. Still, San Antonio generated 15 corners to Portland’s 1 – a huge disparity not often seen. They out-shot Portland 22-10. The problem for SAFC was that only 5 of their shots were on target. Conversely, Portland only had 4 shots on target, but they managed three goals. So it goes in soccer.

All that said, between the three goals scored (plus one own-goal) and the sheer amount of chances being created, that side of the ball looks fairly healthy after two matches. The numbers bear that out even more when you take both matches together. San Antonio has almost twice as many shots as their opponents (33-17) and three times as many corners (24-8).

It’s the defense that needs to step it up and fast. A bumpy start in the back is not surprising given all the new faces. But having a repeat poor performance against Portland is more worrying than it was against Phoenix. Also concerning has to be Matt Cardone’s start, which has only seen him make 2 saves in two matches. After two weeks, that has him tied for 17th in USL West in that category. Both saves were incredible – and amazingly, both were up for USL save of the week - but that save percentage isn’t going to win a lot of games. It’s going to take a team effort from Cardone and the back line in front of him to improve San Antonio’s fortunes.

 

And with an inaugural home opener looming at Austin in a match that is sure to be emotional on and off the pitch next week, well, it’s not going to get any easier anytime soon for SAFC. The good news is that 17 of 18 teams in the West have already dropped points after two weeks. With 32 matches remaining in the season it’s far from panic time, but this will be an important road trip for SAFC to press for that first win of the season.

Colorado Switchbacks come into the match off a 1-0 home defeat to Sacramento Republic via a penalty kick in the 57’. A far cry from the 4-1 thumping they delivered to LA Galaxy 2 in their season opener. In that match Forward Shane Malcom had a hat trick and team Captain Jordan Burt added another goal.

 

One of Malcolm’s goals was Assisted by a familiar name to SAFC fans – Forward Mike Seth. After spending the last two seasons in San Antonio, Seth returned to Colorado this year, where he previously scored 12 goals over two seasons with the club in 2015-16. He’s slotted back into a true Forward role with Colorado, something that wasn’t always the case while he was in San Antonio. He’s off to a good start, leading the team in chances. Keep an eye on Defender Ismaila Jome and his ability to get forward, as well – he’s tied with Seth in total chances created.

One interesting note from the Sacramento match was that Colorado Rapids (MLS) Defender Kofi Opare was sent down for the match and slotted for a pre-determined amount of game time – just over an hour. It will be interesting to see if any affiliation related moves of that nature come into play this week.

Finally, SAFC will most likely be without Midfielder Billy Forbes for this match. Forbes was called up this week to represent his National Team, Turks and Caicos Islands, in their CONCACAF Nations League qualifier happening tonight against British Virgin Islands. That opens up a starting role for one of the remaining Midfielders. Walter Restrepo, Michael Lahoud, or Leeroy Maguraushe should get to make their starting debut for SAFC in this match unless Rafa Castillo returns from the injury list. He was battling an illness last week. Ethan Bryant is not expected to be healthy this week.

 

The Matchup (W-D-L)

San Antonio FC (0-1-1) at Colorado Switchbacks FC (1-0-1)

Weidner Field, Saturday March 23rd, 2019

Kickoff 7:00pm Central Time

Table Position

Current Form (W-D-L)

San Antonio FC - 2019 Road Record 0-0-0

D-L

Colorado Switchbacks FC – 2019 Home Record 0-0-1

W-L

All Time History (W-D-L)

Saturday will mark the seventh league meeting between these two franchises (2-2-2). San Antonio won the 2018 series earning a win and a draw against Colorado. San Antonio also defeated Colorado in penalty kicks in Open Cup play in 2018. San Antonio FC have never won on the road against Colorado. All time San Antonio leads the series 3-2-2.

Season Series

3/23/19 @ COL

10/19/19 @ SA

Last Time

San Antonio defeated Colorado 1-0 on July 25, 2018 at Toyota Field. Kyle Murphy got the lone goal of the game, assisted by Darnell King. Former SAFC player AJ Ajeakwa (now with Tulsa Roughnecks) was red carded in added time in the second half for a poor tackle. Here are the match highlights:

 

SAFC Wins If:

San Antonio FC needs to have a better defensive output. Giving up 3 goals per match is not a recipe for success. San Antonio will also have to figure out how to score in Colorado. Only one goal in their three previous visits hasn’t been enough to get it done.

SAFC “Did You Know?”

Former SAFC GK Josh Ford holds the record for the most saves in one game in SAFC vs Colorado history with 9 on June 18, 2016.

IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER, COLORADO SWITCHBACKS FC TWITTER

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