The final match of the USL regular season for both San Antonio FC (SAFC) (16-4-11-59 points-2nd place) and Rio Grande Valley FC (RGV FC) (9-14-8-35 points-11th place) will be played this Saturday night at Toyota Field in San Antonio. In a term typically used in baseball, this will be the “rubber match” of the 3 game season series, with each team having won a game respectively in their opponents stadium so far this season.
Different Stakes for the Two Teams Than Last Year
In the regular season finale last year, the situations for the two first-year USL teams were basically reversed. San Antonio FC traveled to RGV FC knowing they needed a victory to make the playoffs. The Toros were on a roll and finished the regular season in a surprising second place in the USL Western Conference, the same position San Antonio hopes to occupy if they win tomorrow night. SAFC lost in Edinburg last year and therefore just missed out on the playoffs. Tomorrow night SAFC knows a win guarantees second place. A tie or even a loss could allow them to finish this high, but they would need poor results from the teams immediately below them in the standings and the tiebreakers are not favorable. Rio Grande Valley FC, already eliminated from the playoffs and finishing a very difficult season, is playing for jobs next year, professional pride and rivalry bragging rights.
Can Ever Guzman continue the Goal Scoring Run for SAFC
Forward Ever Guzman, who joined SAFC in August, has now scored in two consecutive matches. This would not normally be unique or significant for the forward position, but it is when you consider that one needs to go back deep into the summer to find the last time a forward scored for the team. Guzman started in the win over Portland Timbers 2 (highlights below) Wednesday night, and it will be interesting to see if he is back in the starting lineup on short rest tomorrow. His run of good form could certainly come in handy when the playoffs begin next weekend.
How many loan players from Houston will join RGV FC this weekend
RGV FC played at Toyota Field a few weeks ago and took home a 1-0 victory on a marvelous goal by Houston Dynamo loanee Jose Escalante.
Since the Toros roster is controlled by Houston Dynamo in their hybrid relationship, a number of Dynamo roster players have played for RGV FC at various points during the season. Last year the Dynamo made it a point at times to publicize a day or two in advance who would be playing for the Toros that weekend. This year, unless I am completely missing the announcements, I have not seen this information sharing, except for those players who are officially designated as on long-term loan to RGV FC. So fans are left not knowing which Dynamo players (many of whom played for the Toros last season) will be available for selection each week until USL releases the official match-day roster or the lineups are released before the game.
In the victory over SAFC a few weeks ago, 5 Houston Dynamo roster players, including Escalante, were in the Toros starting lineup. Last weekend, despite the international break in MLS, only one Dynamo player (goalkeeper Calle Brown) was loaned to the Toros and the team lost 2-0 in Phoenix.
From my perspective, RGV FC’s ability to compete with established, top quality sides like Phoenix and SAFC is dependent on a healthy infusion of Houston Dynamo loan players. 3 of the top 5 Toros leading goal scorers this season (in limited appearances) are Dynamo rostered players. The Dynamo are in Kansas City this weekend and have a relatively full roster (notable exception being former Toro Memo Rodriquez who was injured in the recent SAFC match and has been on the injured list since), as all of their international players have returned. It will be interesting to see how many Dynamo loan players are sent to San Antonio for the game tomorrow night.