USL Week 11 Recap

180 minutes of action by the Texas USL teams and no goals.  The good news is that neither of them lost though.

San Antonio FC (SAFC)-0   Swope Park Rangers (SPR)-0


A sunny and warm evening in San Antonio
The field still needs a lot of work
Midweek problem-Billy Forbes was still running at defenders all night
I thought these kinds of mass confrontations were frowned upon
The WPSL Athenians came to visit
Greg Cochrane exit after red card
Coach Powell:  Pondering who will play left back next week?
Parking the bus late.  Thank you Steven McCarthy

Three Observations:

A classic San Antonio FC match

Tenacious and well organized defending…..look to get out on the break and get a goal to win 1-0.  The defending was there last night, but the goal wasn’t.  Swope Park only really had two decent opportunities.  The first when SAFC fell asleep a bit on a restart and Diego Restrepo was forced to make a decent save.  The second was more dangerous. After defender Greg Cochrane was rightly sent off for a dodgy tackle, SPR was able to push people forward and get pressure on SAFC.  The attacks were contained except for the late blast from Rangers substitute Louis Bennett that was headed off the goal-line and crossbar by SAFC defender Steven McCarthy. McCarthy, who also made an excellent block on a first half Kharlton Belmar shot, is certainly making it difficult for Cyprian Hedrick to regain his starting position now that he is healthy again.  On the night, SAFC only had 5 shots and the two on-target weren’t that dangerous.

So the lack of offense could become a concern….. 

There is a fair amount of angst among the SAFC supporters about the lack of scoring. The team scored 18 of their 21 total goals in the first 7 games of the season.  It should be noted that 8 of those goals came against Reno and Portland, who were awful early in the season.  Since SAFC returned from the Cascadia sweep, they have only scored 3 goals in 6 subsequent home-heavy schedule, including the U.S. Open Cup loss last Wednesday in Tulsa.  Two things seem to be happening.  First, opponents are not making the same number and type of mistakes that SAFC, especially Billy Forbes, was punishing early in the year.  Second, at one point early in the season, SAFC was scoring on something like 2/3’s of their shots.  Expected Goals theory and common sense should tell us that this efficiency wasn’t going to continue.  Cesar Elizando, who was a significant part of the early season magic, returned from a lengthy injury recovery last night.  Maybe his return will spark the offense going forward.

But we need to chill because it isn’t a concern now

Amidst all of the grumbling it is easy to forget that SAFC has given up 0 goals in SIX consecutive games, seven if you count the Open Cup match. This defensive record is outstanding, to say the least, at any level or any time. Until the team starts leaking goals, complaining about the lack of goals is not useful .  It is true that SAFC has now fallen out of first place in the Western Conference, despite an undefeated record. Real Monarchs are blisteringly hot and the good part of the soccer scene in Salt Lake City right now, as their parent MLS side Real Salt Lake just finished a putrid Texas road trip. The Monarchs also has the same plus-17 goal differential as SAFC and have been scoring bucketfuls of goals recently.  It is too early to get excited, but the July 22nd meeting between the Monarchs and SAFC at Toyota Field is looking like one to not miss.

The highlights (minus the red card and McCarthy’s game saving clearance for some bizarre reason) are below:

Sacramento Republic-0   Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (RGV FC)-0


Two Observations:

The Draw was a fair result

Both teams had good chances but were unlucky to not score.  Sacramento definitely had the better opportunities in the first half.  Republic forward Sammy Ochoa misfired on a wide-open look from just outside the 18.  Calle Brown (on loan from Houston) was forced to make some good saves and Man of the Match RGV FC defender Ivan Magalhaes cleared a ball off the line after Brown left his goal for an unsuccessful walk-about.  The Toros seemed to wake up after the break and made a game out of it.   Magalhaes had the favor returned when his powerful header was cleared off the line by the Republic’s Danny Barrera.  Early season revelation and substitute Camilo Monroy, playing his first match since April 12, almost stole the full three points deep in extra-time when his direct kick skimmed off the top of the crossbar.

Much better performance, but it gets challenging now

Since the two 1-0 losses suffered at the beginning of the season, RGV FC has turned things around.  After last night’s draw they are 4-1-2 in their last seven matches, though only two of those have been away from Edinburg. The road trip continues in Reno on Wednesday before they return home for two straight at H-E-B Park.  After that the schedule gets much more difficult. Between June 21 and August 6 the Toros will play 7 of 9 on the road, including three trips to the West Coast and four midweek games.

The game highlights can be found here:

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