San Antonio FC wraps up a two-match road trip (and a stretch where they will have played four out of their previous five on the road) with a rare Friday night game, away to Fresno this week. It is their second of only five Friday night games on the season.
And Speaking of rare, this match begins a stretch of four straight weekday games in a row for San Antonio. SAFC will not play on a Saturday in league play again until July 20th, as they will play three straight Wednesday night games after this Friday night. San Antonio will have a friendly match mixed in on Saturday July 13th against Cardiff City, but alas, that one is only an exhibition.
San Antonio and Fresno have not met in over a calendar year, so they don't exactly have tons of familiarity with each other. Still, San Antonio will go into this match feeling as good as they have on the road all season long after finally securing a road point last weekend thanks to a late free kick goal from Midfielder Jack Barmby. The hope is that the result propels SAFC’s road confidence from here on out. Draws are good, but road wins must come at some point if this team is going to get where they want to go.
Barmby agrees. "I thought we dominated the game and we were the better team, so to come out with a point is a bit disappointing, but at the same time it's our first point on the road and hopefully we can gain some momentum from this."
Sometimes, things just haven’t gone SAFC’s way on the road. Take Saturday night. After surviving a first half penalty which was well saved by GK Matt Cardone, SAFC would give up their only goal of the game after a second, and much less obvious, penalty call in the second half. Manager Darren Powell recognizes the fight the team showed from a situation that has occurred for San Antonio more than once this year,
"Both penalty boxes are key to winning or losing games. Matt (Cardone) came up with a few big saves when needed and Jack (Barmby) hit the free kick at the end very sweetly. It's very difficult to have two penalties called against you on the road, and that happened to us for the second time this year, but the resilience of our players and the character they showed to keep playing and probing is certainly something to be proud of."
Cardone, who was a huge bright spot once again for SAFC, is now third in USL Championship West with 41 saves on the season.
Fresno returns home after a quick road trip to Portland last Sunday night where they tied 2-2. Fresno has now drawn three of their last four matches. The other was a 1-0 loss to Colorado, so they are not quite playing their best football of the season coming into this week. That being said, it’s all relative. Fresno has only been defeated twice in 14 games.
Fresno is pretty middle of the road offensively – their 23 goals are only three more than SAFC’s 20 – but where they really excel is on defense. They have only surrendered 15 goals this season which is third best in USL Championship West, and nine fewer than SAFC’s 24 allowed. And SAFC has had their offensive troubles on the road, being victimized for three road shut outs so far this season. They were minutes away from their fourth before Barmby’s heroics on Saturday night. SAFC’s ability – or inability – to score on a stingy Fresno defense will likely be the difference in the outcome of this match.
Fresno does have one player away at the Gold Cup – Defender Jems Geffrard, who is playing for Haiti - but he won’t be seen as a huge loss to the team, as he has yet to appear for the club this season.
Fresno are lead offensively by Forward Qudus Lawal with 5 goals and Midfielder Jackson who leads the team with 5 assists. Four Fresno players have more than 20 shots on the season and Forward Juan Pablo Caffa leads the team in chances created with 28.
In goal it’s all about CJ Cochran for the Foxes. He has all 14 appearances for the team and has made 32 saves while recording four clean sheets.
On defense Defenders Ramon Del Campo (64 clearances) and Michael Daily (42 clearances) pave the way for a unit that doesn’t give up many goals.
For San Antonio FC, last week was a small stepping stone for the team, finally getting that elusive road point. Now it’s about doing it again and upping the ante into the road win column. Only then, and with more consistency, will SAFC be able to say they are truly improving away from home in 2019.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (4-4-7) at Fresno FC (5-7-2)
Chukchansi Park, Friday June 21st, 2019
Kickoff 9:30pm Central Time
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC - 2019 Road Record 0-1-6
Fresno FC – 2019 Home Record 2-3-1
All Time History (W-D-L)
Friday will mark the third meeting between these two clubs as Fresno enters their second season. SAFC has let to lose in this matchup, winning once and tying once last year. Last year in this fixture the two teams played to a 0-0 draw. SAFC is 1-1-0 all-time against Fresno.
6/21/19 @ Fresno
9/28/19 @ SA
SAFC got their first ever win over Fresno with a 2-1 victory on May 5th, 2018 at Toyota Field. Alex Bruce scored in the first half and an own goal attributed to Fresno’s Kyle Reynish in the 67’ was the difference as San Antonio earned the win.
Here are the match highlights:
SAFC Wins If :
…if they can carry momentum from Barmby’s late equalizer and another impressive Cardone goalkeeping performance against a tough team that has only been defeated twice in 2019.
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE / INSTAGRAM: @PEAKACTION
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER