San Antonio FC begins a two-match league road trip, and a stretch of games where five of the next six are on the road, against a familiar foe on Saturday night – RGV FC. This will be the first meeting between the two Texas rivals in the newly created Copa Tejas tournament. Currently Austin leads the tournament with 4 points and El Paso is in second place with 2 points. RGV is in third place with one point and SAFC is in last with 0 points, although RGV and SAFC have played one less match than Austin and El Paso so far.
San Antonio will travel to face Austin in a different Cup tournament – the US Open Cup – just four days after the RGV match.
It wouldn’t be a SAFC-RGV match without some player ties and this season is no different. San Antonio added Defender Kai Greene in the off-season after spending three years with RGV-FC. Kai has been one of the most reliable players for SAFC in 2019. He is one of only four SAFC players to start every league game this year and has been versatile on the field as well, playing in both Defensive and Midfield roles.
It’s no secret that San Antonio has come up empty on the road so far in 2019. After only getting two points out of a possible six from their most recent home stand, their room for error dwindles more and more with each passing match. As SAFC hits the one-third mark of their season, the time to come up with road results is right now. And no better place to do that than against their in-state rivals with a Cup Trophy on the line.
Defender Joshua Yaro knows the challenges the team faces away from home. “Well, it’s tough in this league when you play on the road. We are aware of the difficulties that we have on the road. It is just a mindset and mentality and I think the team is coming around to a place where we are comfortable in our style and our way. That is what we are going to look to build on.”
RGV FC comes into the match off a 2-2 home draw against LA Galaxy II. RGV gave up a very late equalizer in added time to Ethan Zubak to see two points slip away. Both teams are stagnating in the bottom half of the table with RGV in 14th place with 13 points and SAFC in 16th place, just one point behind them. The 4th and 5th place teams in the West sit at 17 points, so things continue to be extremely tight in the standings out West. A couple of wins for anyone can change their place on the Table in a hurry.
Both teams seem to be improving despite their current standing. Both teams have only suffered one loss in each of their last five outings.
RGV is 7th in USL West with 19 goals scored (5 more than SAFC) and their conversion rate of 17% is 8th in USL West (SAFC is 15th). So, they are slightly better than average in their attack overall. They are lead by Forward Michael Salazar who is a top ten goal scorer in USL Championship with 5 goals in 9 appearances.
Forward Maalique Foster and Midfielder Isidro Martinez will also be players to watch on offense. Both are tied for the team lead in Assists with 3 each and they are each top-two in chances created for RGV. Martinez leads the team with 24 in that category.
Defender Kyle Adams paves the way on the back line with 42 clearances, exactly double the amount of the next best Defender on the team.
There have been four different players to feature in goal for RGV this season and none has more than four appearances, so it’s anyone guess who will be between the pipes on Saturday night. Tyler Deric leads in appearances with 4 and has the only clean sheet of the season. Michael Nelson leads in saves with 10. Nelson and Deric have each surrendered 7 goals this season.
While San Antonio FC has been shut out in 3 of 4 away games, they will feel right at home at HEB Park where they have never lost. RGV has only managed two home wins in 5 games, so they are far from a dominant home team. This is as good of a shot as any for SAFC to break the mold away from Toyota Field. They could be the perfect team at the perfect time for SAFC.
For a team that hasn’t played well on the road, these next five games could go a long way towards the direction this team will head in as they approach the second half of the season. Will they finally earn points away from home and get on the right track, or will the season collapse around them and their inability to get results on the road? These next five road games will tell the story.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (3-3-5) at RGV FC (3-4-4)
H.E.B. Park, Saturday May 25th, 2019
Kickoff 7:30pm Central Time
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC - 2019 Road Record 0-0-4
RGV FC – 2019 Home Record 2-2-1
All Time History (W-D-L)
Saturday will mark the 11th 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. They are currently unbeaten in four straight games against RGV FC and have never lost at HEB Park, winning twice and drawing once. All time SAFC is 3-3-4 against their Texas rivals with RGV leading the series 15 points to 12.
5/25/19 @ RGV
8/17/19 @ SA
SAFC and RGV FC played to a 1-1 draw at Toyota Field on the final day of the 2018 season, October 13, 2018. Ever Guzman scored in the first half for SAFC and Carlos Small equalized for RGV FC in the second half.
Here are the match highlights:
SAFC Wins If :
…if they can get past their road struggles and continue to play well at HEB Park. SAFC hasn’t been scored on in open play in their last three matches. If they can play Defense like that on the road they can finally translate it into results. Also, if human ball of energy Cristian Parano can finally, and justifiably, find his first goal of the season.
Matt Cardone won the fan vote to earn USL Championship Save of the Week for his effort in the Orange County match on May 11th.
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE/ USL CHAMPIONSHIP PHOTOGRAPHER / INSTAGRAM: @PEAKACTION
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER