USL Preview-Week 6

San Antonio FC (SAFC) vs. Portland Timbers 2:

Providence Park-Portland, Oregon-9:30 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 28, 2017

San Antonio FC will look to complete a three game sweep of their Cascadia road trip when they play at Portland on Friday night. This will be the second meeting between the teams.  Last seasons match (also in Portland) ended in a 1-1 draw.

SAFC is now 5-0-1 and sits in first place in the Western Conference. As is becoming customary, Billy Forbes, who now has 5 goals in 6 games, was named to the USL Team of the Week.  Goalkeeper Matt Cardone missed the midweek victory in Seattle and it is unknown whether he will play tonight.

T2 are at the opposite end of the table, having only won a single game this year.  That victory, however, came last weekend when they surprisingly beat Sacramento 2-0 on the road.  Midfielder Victor Arboleda, who scored in this match, was also named to the Team of the Week.  T2 are primarily used as a developmental squad for the first team Timbers and this is reflected in the roster turnover from last year.  The entire back line is new and it has resulted in defensive difficulties in the early part of the season so far. Midfielder Villyan Bijev, who also scored last weekend and is tied for the team scoring lead, is the returning stability in the team.  Because of an injury Timbers starter Jake Gleeson, Wade Hamilton will get a second straight match in goal.

After Saturday night’s victory T2 head coach had this to say about tonight’s match:

“As the season goes on, I don’t think you’re going to see many teams winning at Sacramento. We’ve go to get back to work next week and continue to get better. It’s one game. We still have plenty of games left, but I think it’s a good confidence builder for these guys to know that the work they’ve been putting in was rewarded tonight. San Antonio is top of the league right now and they’re a good, experienced team. We’re going to have to go out and perform well to get a result that we want. Not much changes. We’ll move on, continue to get better and take it game by game.”

No Texans play for T2, but reserve goalkeeper Christian Herrera, who has played for both U.S. and Mexican youth teams, is from right across the border in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The return match in San Antonio will be played on August 26.

Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (RGV FC) vs. Oklahoma City Energy (OKC)

H-E-B Park-Edinburg-7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 29, 2017

After a disappointing loss last week, Rio Grande Valley FC will attempt to restart their long home stand when they host OKC Energy tomorrow night. This will be the second early season meeting between the two sides.  RGV FC won a very physical and emotional 1-0 game in Oklahoma City a few weeks ago.  Tomorrow’s match will be the final meeting of the regular season between these two teams.

OKC Energy have had a 17 day break since their last league action, a home win against Sacramento Republic.  This match was highlighted by an ESPN Top 10 Plays of the Day bicycle kick goal by Miguel Gonzalez.  This goal, spectacular as it was, is only one of three the team has scored this year though, tied for second from last in USL.  Unfortunately, RGV FC has only scored four themselves, two of them from Memo Rodriquez who is unlikely to spend much time in the Valley as he has made two game day rosters in Houston.

During the break the Energy attempted to keep match fitness by playing (and winning) an exhibition match against the University of Tulsa.

OKC Energy head coach Jimmy Nielsen shared his thoughts on their website about getting back to action earlier this week.

“We can actually build on the momentum of [the Sacramento] game.  We had the weekend off, it was well-deserved, the guys have worked extremely hard and now we’re back into it to prepare ourselves for the RGV game.”

Houston Dynamo Academy alumnus Alex Dixon (Bay City) is a starter for OKC and has scored one of their three goals this year. Coy Craft is on a season long loan from FC Dallas.  FCD 2007 MLS SuperDraft selection Anthony Wallace played 44 MLS games over eight seasons.  He joined OKC from the defunct NASL Jacksonville Armada in the offseason.


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