San Antonio FC (SAFC) and Rio Grande Valley FC (RGVFC) are both in action this weekend. SAFC will play its home opener against Los Angeles Galaxy II (Los Dos) and RGVFC travel to Tulsa for its first road trip of the season to play the Roughnecks.
SAFC vs. LA Galaxy II
Toyota Field-7:30 p.m., Saturday April 1
SAFC will attempt to build on momentum generated from its first ever victory over Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg last weekend. Their opponents, LA Galaxy II, have been one of the most successful MLS-generated USL teams since they entered the league in 2014. Last year was a bit of a comedown from the 2015 season, where Galaxy II advanced to the USL Cup Final. Los Dos did make the playoffs last year for the third consecutive year, but were eliminated on the opening weekend. There have been numerous changes since the end of last season, most notably head coach Curt Analfo moving up to take the first team job after Bruce Arena left to become US Men’s National Team coach. Galaxy II’s roster is always heavy on graduates from the Galaxy’s successful Academy program and this year is no different.
Last week Los Dos won their opener over Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0. New head coach Mike Munoz, who was recently promoted from his job running the Galaxy Academy, was generally happy with the result and team performance, though he thought they had defended more than he would have liked. They were fortunate to go up 1-0 in the 6th minute, through an own goal resulting from a mishandled back pass by the Whitecaps 2 goalkeeper. The game was put away when 18-year old Academy product Ethan Zubak scored off a great feed from Bradford Jamieson IV, who was on loan from the first team. Interestingly, Los Dos only have 13 rostered USL players, so it is clear that the team will be reinforced by the first team each week for the foreseeable future. Among those players we might see here Saturday is former San Antonio Scorpion loanee,-Jon Kempin. He is now a reserve first team goalkeeper for the Galaxy and played with Los Dos last week.
Earlier this week, when asked about the preparation for the SAFC game, Coach Munoz had this to say. “I think we’re going to stay consistent with what we’ve been doing. Those areas we haven’t perfected yet; we’ll look at the tape. Now it becomes a little bit more real because we can watch San Antonio and prep for them next week. But overall, I’m pleased.”
Tulsa Roughnecks vs. RGVFC
ONEOK Field, Tulsa Oklahoma-7:00 p.m., Saturday April 1
RGVFC faces a tough test in their first road game of the year. After the opening loss to SAFC, the Toros will look to get their first victory of the season when they play the Roughnecks on Saturday. In his post-game press conference after Sunday’s loss, Toros head coach Junior Gonzalez stated, despite coming out flat to open the game and giving up the early goal, that he was pleased with the number of good chances that were created, especially in the second half.
Tulsa opened their season with a dominating 4-1 home victory over Colorado Springs Switchbacks last Saturday night. A new addition this season, 32-year old Argentinian and new Roughnecks captain Juan Pablo Caffa, scored a nice free kick to erase an early deficit for the Roughnecks. A pair of goals from Ian Svantesson and a late strike from Francisco Ugarte finished off the impressive win. Caffa was named to the USL Team of the Week for his performance. The Roughnecks are beginning a complete reboot after their miserable last place performance in 2016. New head coach Dave Vaudreuil completely overhauled the roster and Saturday’s performance, on the back of an undefeated preseason, means that this year’s results could be very different.
Former Dynamo Academy and 2016 RGVFC product, Bradley Bourgeois, started and played the full 90 for the Roughnecks on Saturday. Coach Vaudreuil was favorably impressed with the performance of Bourgeois, who also played college soccer at the University of Tulsa. “We only signed him a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “A day or two ago, he wasn’t expected to start, but he stepped right up and did really well for us.”