So far so good for SAFC in the Alen Marcina era as they came through with a 1-0 victory in their opener thanks to a Callum Montgomery goal in the second half against Defending league Champions Real Monarchs. Montgomery was also named to the USL Championship Team of the Week on Tuesday for his efforts in the match.
Now San Antonio FC will travel to Colorado this weekend to play their first road game of the 2020 season. They’ll be looking to improve on their 2019 road form where they only managed 3 wins in 17 games. Without question, their poor road form contributed greatly to missing the playoffs last season. Whether or not SAFC can turn that around will be one of the biggest stories to watch in 2020.
Ideally, travelling to Colorado in March would not have been on the docket for SAFC, but those are the cards they were dealt. San Antonio has always struggled in Colorado; in 4 games they have only managed points one time, a 1-1 draw in 2018. That game was played in June. The other three were in March or April when the weather in Colorado can be dicey.
Just like in 2019, they’ll travel to this fixture very early in the season. Last year the wind was a huge factor in a tough 1-0 defeat. Being March in Colorado, it’s probably best to expect the worst from that standpoint. This will also be the last time SAFC plays at Weidner Field as the Switchbacks are poised to move to a new downtown stadium in 2021.
Marcina was pleased with the win last week, but he knows this is only the beginning. “As a collective I think we’re very excited. I believe there was a clear identity shown. Keeping a clean sheet is always very positive, but it was a collective effort from the front to the back and vice versa. We’re happy with the result of course, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Maybe the best sign for SAFC was that they earned the shutout victory knowing they didn’t even have all of their top players. Three Defensive returnees were missing in Joshua Yaro (injury), Kai Greene (injury) and Eby Ackon (visa holdups). Additionally, new signee Hunter Gorskie (injury) was also not involved. Offensively Cristian Parano is still recovering from offseason surgery and Leo Torres was also on the lengthy injury list. Finally, Midfielder Zachary Herivaux had a holdover red card suspension to get through. That’s a long list of missing players to deal with, but especially in week one.
Colorado Switchbacks come into the match off a 2-1 road victory in Oklahoma City thanks to a Tucker Stephenson own goal in the 78’. It was a positive start for a team that finished dead last in USL Championship West in 2019. Forward Christian Volesky scored the Switchbacks only offensive goal of the match last week.
Despite having only 41% possession, Switchbacks managed 11 total shots; 7 on target. They also completed a passing accuracy of 77%. Aiden Daniels and Andrew Lewis each contributed 3 chances in the opening match.
Sean Melvin had the nod in Goal and he picked up 4 saves. That was good for 7th in the West after one week of play.
Defenders Jordan Burt and Adrian Diz Pe each contributed 4 clearances in the opening win.
Week one hero Callum Montgomery, on loan from FC Dallas of MLS, knows what the expectations are for the SAFC Defense. "As a back line we take pride in getting clean sheets in every game, that’s our goal. If we concede a goal and win, we’re still going to be a little bit upset after the game. To get a clean sheet is the most important thing as a back line to help our team win. All the hard work throughout preseason came together. Great start to the season.”
Also hanging out there is the game last October, when Colorado came into Toyota Field and spoiled the playoff party for SAFC. You can bet all the 2019 holdovers had this game circled on their calendars for some payback.
If SAFC can take that same winning mentality from last week and translate it on the road, it will go a long way towards making believers in this new era of SAFC football.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (1-0-0, 3 points) at Colorado Switchbacks FC (1-0-0, 3 points)
Weidner Field, Saturday March 14th, 2020
Kickoff 4:30pm Central Time
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC - 2020 Road Record 0-0-0
Colorado Switchbacks FC – 2020 Home Record 0-0-0
All Time History (W-D-L)
Saturday will mark the ninth league meeting between these two franchises (2-3-3). San Antonio only earned one point in this series in 2019. San Antonio also defeated Colorado in penalty kicks in Open Cup play in 2018. All time San Antonio is 3-3-3 in this series.
3/14/20 @ COL
10/3/20 @ SA
Colorado played playoff spoiler for SAFC in the 2019 regular season finale at Toyota Field last October. San Antonio built a 2-goal lead and gained a man advantage only to squander both in a dismal second half that ended their season when Colorado escaped with a 2-2 draw.
Here are the match highlights, if you can bear to watch them:
SAFC Wins If:
…if they can deal with the challenges of playing in Colorado in March, both from a weather and elevation standpoint. And if this team can continue to gel and do what the 2019 team couldn’t – be road warriors.