San Antonio FC plays their final regular season game of the year on Sunday night as they travel to face Austin for the 4th time this season. San Antonio has two wins and a draw in the previous three games with their Texas rivals.
San Antonio FC lost for only the second time this season as they dropped a heartbreaker in Tulsa 1-0 last weekend, giving up the losing goal in second half added time. Suddenly a SAFC team that had been cruising most of the season has lost 2 of their last 4 games, and two straight on the road.
The loss was damaging to SAFC’s chances at the top seed in the Western Playoffs, but not fatal. Reno 1868 remains in the driver’s seat as they hold a plus four goal differential advantage on SAFC, but the teams are level on points. SAFC will know what they have to do by kickoff as Reno concludes their schedule on Saturday night against Tacoma. If Reno wins their last game, it will be a real long shot for SAFC to earn the top seed as they would need to make up at least a 5 goal gap.
With SAFC’s unbeaten run at home in 2020 it’s easy to understand how important playing at Toyota Field could be for the black and silver. A win on Sunday assures them of being no worse than 2nd in the West, which would mean at least two games at Toyota Field if they were to advance in the playoffs.
San Antonio FC's opening playoff game will either be Saturday October 10th or Sunday October 11th and the team plans to host fans; up to 35% capacity. SAFC will be facing the runner-up from Group C, either New Mexico United or a rematch with El Paso Locomotive. As of this writing, New Mexico United are the runners-up with one game to play.
For Manager Alen Marcina, the match in Tulsa was about missed opportunity. “I think the biggest takeaway for us is the number of chances we created and how we didn’t put any in the back of the net. We have to be more ruthless. We had six or seven clear cut chances, and we have to put one of those in the back of the net. It could have been a lopsided game in our favor if we buried our opportunities.”
Austin comes into this game off a short week thanks to a rescheduled midweek game against RGV-FC. They lost 2-0 to RGV-FC, a team that had zero wins before the match. It was a catastrophic result for Austin’s playoff hopes. Tulsa only needs one point in their remaining two games to clinch the final playoff spot from Group D, no matter what Austin does on Sunday. And Austin could certainly find themselves already eliminated before the game kicks off as Tulsa Plays Colorado on Saturday night.
Prior to Wednesday, Austin was having a decent run. Since July 17th, they had only lost to one team, and that had been SAFC. The problem for Austin is that they lost to SAFC twice and mixed in between those two results were several draws. Their 4 wins for the season hasn’t been enough to ensure a playoff spot. The loss to RGV just about put the dagger in them.
Former SAFC man Billy Forbes has emerged as the Goal scoring leader for Austin, scoring 6 goals this season. No one else has more than 4 goals for the Bold. Xavier Baez is their Assist leader with 5 while Ewa Twumasi leads the team in Chances Created with 29.
Diego Restrepo continues to be the man in between the pipes for the Bold. He has 29 saves in 14 appearances and two clean sheets so far in 2020, conceding 26 goals. Vincent Tasca notched an appearance and a clean sheet against Spoking KC II last week.
Jermaine Taylor and Fabien Garcia are a formidable 1-2 tandem in the back. Taylor has 54 clearances, 27 interceptions and 11 tackles while Garcia has 42 clearances and 29 interceptions.
SAFC Goal Keeper Matt Cardone knows what’s at stake with the playoffs now one game away. "We’ve been tight as a unit this year. When we need to defend and defend hard the guys are up to the task. It’s very important heading into the playoffs that we get the right mentality.”
Going into the Playoffs with a Win at their backs would go a long way towards setting that mentality in the right direction.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (10-3-2, 33 points)
at Austin Bold FC (4-7-4, 19 points)
Bold Stadium, Sunday October 4th, 2020
Kickoff 5:00pm Central Time
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC - 2020 Away Record (3-2-2)
Austin Bold FC– 2020 Home Record (3-2-2)
All Time History (W-D-L)
Saturday will mark the seventh all time meeting between these two teams. San Antonio FC are unbeaten in four straight games in the series. They are 3-1-1 vs the Bold in USL Championship play. San Antonio has also lost to Austin in Open Cup play for an all-time record of 3-1-2 against the Bold.
8/1/20 @ ATX W 4-2
8/15/20 @ SA D 1-1
9/16/20 @ SA W 3-2
10/2/20 @ ATX
San Antonio FC defeated Austin Bold 3-2 on September 16th at Toyota Field. Solignac, Parano and Gallegos scored for SAFC in the victory.
Here are the match highlights:
SAFC Wins If :
…if they can complete their unbeaten run against Austin in 2020. Through three games in this series it has been in SAFC’s favor while outscoring Austin 8-5. San Antonio will want to leap into their playoff run feeling good about themselves and no better way to do that than by putting Austin back down on the mat one more time. It hasn’t been often that SAFC’s attack has dried up like they did against Tulsa. If that group bounces back, Austin will have their hands full once again.
Copa Tejas News
The Copa Tejas team has unveiled a series of fan-selected Awards including the All-Copa Tejas Best Eleven, Copa Coach of the Year, and the Supporters Player of the Year Award.
Copa Tejas co-founders Steve Arters and Danielle Gawronski organized the launch of the trophy in early 2019. “We’re excited to give supporters and fans the opportunity to select The All Copa Tejas Team because there’s so much talent among the Texas USL Championship teams,” Arters said.
“2020 has been such a difficult challenge and we think this will give all the supporters and fans a reason to promote their team and acknowledge the best players on the other Copa teams,” Gawronski added.
Voting is open now and runs through October 7th.
Fans can sign up and vote HERE.
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER, AUSTIN BOLD FC TWITTER
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE, INSTAGRAM: @PEAKACTION