San Antonio FC wraps up their three-match home stand on Saturday night against Tulsa Roughnecks. So far on this home stand SAFC has played to a 0-0 draw against Orange County and a 2-0 victory over Laredo Heat in the US Open Cup.
Against Orange County it was the good and the bad. The good being that SAFC followed up a poor three-goal defensive performance against New Mexico with their third straight home clean sheet. That part of the match is even more impressive when you consider San Antonio lost to OC twice by identical 3-0 score-lines in 2018. The bad being a stagnant offense that only managed 3 shots on target all match against OC and one that has now been shut out in back to back league games.
San Antonio was able to score twice on Tuesday against NPSL side Laredo Heat, but it will be a different challenge going up against one of the top clubs in USL Championship West. It’s hard to know where the goals will come from. There have been flashes of brilliance all season long, but no one has been able to stay consistent. Jamieson IV has come the closest. He scored in 3 out of 4 matches but has been denied in the last two.
Gomez had a brace but has been silenced in the three matches since. Ditto for Barmby in the two matches after his brace. And Parano has looked likely to score all season long but hasn’t found his breakthrough yet.
Guzman scored in back to back matches but then he picked up an injury. While he has appeared twice post injury in league play, he hasn’t started, or scored since. The good news may be that he did both on Tuesday night in Open Cup play, picking up his 20th overall goal in a SAFC uniform. Hopefully that will ignite his scoring prowess once again.
Until then, SAFC are currently 13th in USL Championship West with 13 goals scored, 9 goals off the pace of leaders New Mexico. That part of their game will need to come together - especially on the road where they have been shut out in 3 of 4 games – if SAFC is going to make a run at the playoffs.
Manager Darren Powell thought the weekend bounce back from a tough loss against New Mexico was evident, saying “When you lose a game you look for a response from the players. Our players and staff all love this club and everyone puts in the effort every day. You have to remember there’s always two teams on the field and there are challenges along the way, but we want to see that response and that was important to us."
For Tulsa, they are coming off a bye week in USL play, however they were in Texas on Tuesday night taking on Austin in US Open Cup play. Whatever advantage they might have had with extra rest was basically nullified by that game landing on their schedule. And then they got unceremoniously dumped out of the tournament by the expansion side, losing to the Bold 2-0.
In league play, it has been a remarkable turnaround for a team who was the worst in USL West in 2018. Their four wins so far in 2019 has already surpassed their 2018 win total of three.
Tulsa is in fifth place (although, only four points ahead of SAFC in a crowded Western Table) and as you might expect from a team that high on the table, they are one of the most prolific scorers in the league. They are second in USL West with 21 goals scored. They can score and they are efficient when doing so. Their conversion rate of 25% is the best in the entire league. Remarkably, their leading scorer is a Defender – Luca Lobo, who hails from Brazil. Lobo is tied for the USL lead with 7 goals on the year. But they also have gotten solid contributions from Forward Janu Silva (4 goals), and Midfielder Rodrigo Da Costa (4 goals).
There is plenty of former San Antonio FC flair on the Tulsa roster, none more-so than from Defender Cyprian Hedrick. Hedrick is having another phenomenal year, far and away leading the team in Clearances with 63. He has also scored a goal. It is definitely a shame that SAFC couldn’t retain his services, but so it goes in USL life.
Fans will also recognize Forward/Midfielder AJ Ajeakwa. AJ moved from the Colorado Switchbacks to Tulsa in the offseason. Ajeakwa has 7 appearances but only 2 starts so far, and no goals, but he has made his mark with 2 assists. Two keepers have appeared for Tulsa in 2019. Mason Stajduhar has 6 of those appearances and earned their only clean sheet.
Like many teams in USL West, life is difficult on the road, and Tulsa is not immune. They only have one win in five road matches thus far. Six if you count their Open Cup defeat. And they can definitely be scored on. Their 17 goals allowed is two more than SAFC’s 15.
San Antonio will feel like they let two points slip away last Saturday night. Tulsa is a stronger team than Orange County, but SAFC will need to rise to the challenge and find a way to win. Anything short of 4 points out of this home-stand won’t feel very good for a team that hasn’t performed well on the road. Especially when they face a stretch where four of their next five games in the league are away from home, plus the Open Cup road match in Austin.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
Tulsa Roughnecks (4-3-3) at San Antonio FC (3-2-5)
Toyota Field, Saturday May 18th, 2019
Kickoff 7:30pm Central Time
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC - 2019 Home Record 3-2-1
Tulsa Roughnecks– 2019 Road Record 1-1-3
All Time History (W-D-L)
Saturday will mark the 10th all time meeting between the two clubs including one meeting in the Open Cup and once in USL Playoffs. Any way you slice it, San Antonio has dominated the series. San Antonio is 5-1-1 against Tulsa in league play and 6-1-2 against them all time. In five matches at Toyota Field including Playoffs, Tulsa has never won and only managed one draw. However, Tulsa won the series last year, earning a Draw and a Win against SAFC in 2018. Without a doubt, those two outcomes were the most frustrating for SAFC in 2018 as they couldn’t defeat the worst team in the league.
5/18/19 @ SA
9/25/19 @ TUL
Tulsa won for the first time against SAFC in league play on September 15, 2018 at ONEOK Field by a score of 2-1. Cesar Elizondo scored for SAFC in the 18’ but Tulsa would come back and take the victory. Here are the match highlights:
SAFC Wins If :
…if San Antonio can finish their chances and continue to play lights out defense at home. SAFC had terrific chances against Orange County but couldn’t find the finishing touch. Defensively, it’s three league games and counting without allowing a goal at home. Tulsa has struggled on the road. SAFC would do best to keep them uncomfortable in that space.
On Tuesday, SAFC Defender Eby Ackon was named to the USL Championship team of the week for his performance against Orange County last weekend. He recorded 8 clearances in the match, helping San Antonio maintain a clean sheet.
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE / USL CHAMPIONSHIP PHOTOGRAPHER / INSTAGRAM: @PEAKACTION
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER