USL Preview-Week 7

SAFC returns home after a triumphant three game sweep in the Pacific Northwest.  Rio Grande Valley FC has their second week off in the last month.  As I mentioned earlier in the season, these breaks will have consequences later in the year.

Between June 21st and August 6th, the Toros will play 7 of 9 games on the road, including three separate trips to the West Coast and 4 mid-week games.  The schedule compression is partially a result of the three 10+ day breaks in RGV FC’s schedule early in the season.

Joe Holland, on loan to RGV FC from the Dynamo, was named to the USL Team of the Week as a result of his goal and assist in the 3-0 win over OKC Energy last week.

San Antonio FC (SAFC) vs. Sacramento Republic

Toyota Field-San Antonio-7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 6, 2017

  • This will only be the second meeting between the two sides and Sacramento’s first trip to San Antonio.  Last years match ended disappointingly for SAFC 1-1, when the Republic converted a stoppage-time tying penalty.  The game preview on the Republic website pointed out that only 11 of the 28 players that played in that match are still currently on either Republic FC or San Antonio FC’s roster.  If it seems like USL teams have a lot of turnover, this is a pretty good piece of evidence.
  • The league is finally starting to stand up and take notice of SAFC.  As is usually the case, the Texas teams tend to get lost in the shuffle in professional soccer.  SAFC’s start to the season is impossible for national USL fans to ignore though.  This week Cesar Elizando and Billy Forbes were named to the USL Team of the Week and Elizando was honored with the league Player of the Week award.  To cap things off, exciting rookie midfielder Devin Vega was named to the bench on the Team of the Week and also picked up the Goal of the Week honor.
  • SAFC made some roster adjustments this week.  Defender Kevyn McFarlane, who had not played this year after joining the club in the offseason, was released. Midfielder Mark O’Ojong joins the club from the Seattle Sounders 2 where he spent the 2016 season.  While playing for Sounders 2, O’Ojong was named 12th best player in the USL under the age of 20 as part of the league’s 20-under-20 list.  The 20-year-old has played for the Cameroon national team twice, including in the 2016 African Cup of Nations. 
  • On the club website this week, head coach Darren Powell noted how early this was in a long season.

“When you look at the players since they arrived, they’ve been hungry and humble and want to work hard every day,” Powell said. When you have that application, you hope to see the rewards. We’ve had those early, but there’s a long, long way to go. There’s only one champion at the end.”

  • Sacramento’s performance this season so far has been puzzling.  They are in third place (3-3-1) with 10 points, but are clearly under-performing, given the talent in the squad.  The home shutout loss to Timbers 2 two weeks ago was the most maddening to their fan base. They have a wealth of attacking options, yet have not scored in over 300 minutes.  Republic head coach Paul Buckle sat in for a Reddit Q&A session yesterday.  Some of the questions asked about the goal drought and the inability to convert crosses. Buckle doesn’t seem to be panicking based on these two answers to two such questions.

“First of all, it is too early for us to look at a league average. There is a very similar pattern emerging for us to last season. We are in a game where everything is under a microscope and that is okay. I trust our players and I am confident that we can get it right again. I think this shows that we have work to do and we will continue to work to get better. We need to continue to get good balls into the area and work to get on the end of them.” 

“Two home matches is not enough to judge the players. If we are not winning we will accept criticism and analysis. Every opinion is valued and we look at them all. We do not just chuck balls into the box, if you look at the Orange County match we scored from the floor, for example Wilson and Sammy’s goals. We do deliver good balls into a good area and hope that players get onto those balls and deliver a goal. The good thing for me is that we had this kind of stretch last year and we listened to everyone’s analysis and criticism and got better and ended up winning the league and doing very well on set pieces.  Stats do not lie, but I like to look at the stats at the end of the year and not just for a specific period of time.”

  • Sacramento Republic have three players with ties to Texas.  Starting goalkeeper Evan Newton was drafted by Houston in 2011, but was released after one year, never having played for the club.  Scottish midfielder Adam Moffat had a more productive career with the Dynamo to say the least.  He played in close to 50 games in Houston from 2011-2013 and was the starting holding midfielder in two MLS Cup finals.  He also played for FC Dallas in the 2014 season.  Moffat unfortunately is recovering from an injury and will not be available Saturday night.  Midfielder Jeremy Hall also played part of the 2011 season for FCD.  Thinking about Adam Moffat brought back great memories of this 2012 MLS playoff goal against SKC. Those were the days.

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