San Antonio FC returns home to Toyota Field on Saturday night licking their wounds from a road trip that went horribly wrong. San Antonio lost both games, scored zero goals, and became a trivia question answer when they lost the first ever game at Bold Stadium last week, dropping a 1-0 result to Austin.
It’s hard to know what to expect from this team after Darren Powell unexpectedly turned the lineup on its head last week. GK Matt Cardone was benched for Viscosi. As were the two most productive offensive players for SAFC in the last calendar year, Lance Laing and Ever Guzman. While Laing and Guzman both subbed into the match in the second half, it was strange to see them both begin the game on the bench.
Add Amer Didic to that list. He was thought to be a key off-season addition on defense. Instead, the team gave up 3 goals in each of the two matches that he started and he was benched for both games on the road trip. When taken all together there have been some surprising decisions, to be sure. While there have been varying degrees of success related to these moves, so far they haven’t worked out in the win column.
Veteran Midfielder Michael Lahoud started his first match for SAFC last weekend in the Defensive Mid role as Pecka was unavailable due to injury. Lahoud was excited about the opportunity to wear the Captain armband for the team, saying “It was an honor to start and captain the team. It’s the opportunity you work hard and stay patient for. It’s not easy waiting especially as an experienced guy, but when you go to a new team you wait for your once chance and when you get that chance you have to make it count. Obviously I wish it would have come with three points, but I feel confident going into this week.”
Lahoud sees the details as the missing piece to SAFC's game right now, adding “When you find yourself in this situation when things get hard, you have to start focusing on little things and how you can show up differently and impact your team and push your team across the finish line. We know we have good players here, but it is the small details. When tough moments replay themselves, do we learn and do we do something different, or do we let the same thing happen? So my focus is constantly thinking of how I can do it all one step better.”
One of those details needs to be a better shot selection in the attack. The most troubling sign for SAFC offensively has to be the overall Chances created. That number sat at 34 after their first two home games, which produced four total goals. That number shrunk to only 16 Chances over the two match road trip and they didn’t score at all.
It’s getting harder and harder to find positives for this San Antonio FC team that had so much promise and excitement coming into the season. And as the calendar flips from March into April, it won’t be “early” in the season for much longer. This team needs to start to figure out how to win games or they’ll be left in the USL Western dust permanently.
The early results haven’t been pretty for these teams. They combine for one win and five losses so far. The good news for San Antonio FC – Las Vegas Lights have no wins and two losses on the road this season and also no wins and two losses all time vs San Antonio. SAFC needs to make sure they go zero for three on both counts.
Las Vegas Lights arrives in San Antonio after winning their first game of the season last week, a 1-0 victory over Real Monarchs, which was also their first victory under Head Coach Eric Wynalda. The match winner came in the second half from Forward Alex Harlley.
In the early going, Las Vegas has three goal scorers, each with one goal. They are lead in Chances by Christian Hernandez, Pablo Cruz, and Harlley. Thomas Olsen is the man between the pipes and he has two clean sheets on the young season.
Strangely enough – both Las Vegas and San Antonio are tied at the top of USL West in total shots at 65 each. Neither team has a high conversion percentage however, sitting at 5% and 8% respectively, which ranks San Antonio 15th and Las Vegas dead last. And therein lies the offensive struggles for both teams in the early going. It’s not a stretch to suggest that one goal might win this match. For San Antonio, this is an all-too-familiar refrain.
Bad as this opening stretch has been for SAFC, they are only 4 points out of playoff position. While it sounds ridiculous to even talk about playoffs when SAFC has zero wins, this overall point remains true; it’s a long season, and one single win can change everything. San Antonio would do very well for their 2019 fortunes to get that first win on Saturday night.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
Las Vegas Lights FC (1-1-2) at San Antonio FC (0-1-3)
Toyota Field, Saturday April 6th, 2019
Kickoff 7:30pm Central Time
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC - 2019 Home Record 0-1-1
Las Vegas Lights – 2019 Road Record 0-0-2
All Time History (W-D-L)
Saturday will mark the third meeting between these two franchises as the rivalry begins its second season in 2019. San Antonio swept the year one match-ups with identical home and away victories by the same 3-1 scoreline. All time San Antonio is 2-0-0 vs Las Vegas.
4/6/19 @ SA
10/5/19 @ LV
San Antonio defeated Las Vegas 3-1 on October 6, 2018 at Toyota Field. San Antonio got two goals from Ever Guzman and a goal and an Assist from lance Laing as they dominated the visitors. Samuel Ochoa opened the scoring for Las Vegas in the 12’ but it was all San Antonio FC from there. Here are the match highlights:
SAFC Wins If :
San Antonio FC needs to be a different team at Toyota Field than the one we saw on the two-game road trip. Everything needs to get better or this season will be lost before it begins. SAFC has been dominant at home over their three years. Hopefully that will be enough to propel them to a much needed first win of the season.
It's Spurs night at Toyota Field on Saturday night. SAFC fans can purchase a special ticket + Spurs scarf package starting at $20, Spurs broadcaster and former player Matt Bonner will be available for meet and greet opportunities, and fans can take photos with the Spurs Championship trophies. Visit SanAntonioFC.com for more details.
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER