San Antonio FC-Tulsa Roughnecks USL Quarterfinal-Observations

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Toyota Field San Antonio, TX

San Antonio FC (SAFC) and Tulsa Roughnecks will meet at 7:30 p.m. at Toyota Field tonight in what is the first ever United Soccer League (USL) playoff game for both teams.  Tulsa has never beaten SAFC in USL regular season play, but knocked the team out of the US Open Cup on penalties earlier this year.  The winner of tonight’s match will play the winner of tonight’s Reno 1868-OKC Energy game in the Western Conference semifinal round next weekend.

There are no guarantees in the USL

The USL is nothing but unpredictable.  With rosters that frequently turn-over from year to year and new expansion teams constantly being added, there is no real predictable favorites going into the regular season.  This also seems to be the case in the playoffs, especially in the Western Conference.  The number one seed has been eliminated each of the last three years in the opening round, most recently last night when Real Monarchs were stunned by Sacramento Republic on penalties.  Interestingly Sacramento was the number one seed last year and was also eliminated in the opening round.  Last season RGV FC was the number two seed and also eliminated in the opening round after a complete collapse in extra-time against OKC Energy.  Colorado Springs was the number 3 seed last year and also lost, opening the door for Swope Park to make a run to the USL Championship match.  I assume that number 2 seed SAFC, who always seem to be prepared regardless of the circumstances, has taken this all into account in the preparation for tonight’s game.

Ever Guzman has been a late season revelation for SAFC

The fact that SAFC has struggled to get goals from the forward position this year is no secret.  Prior to the recent run of form by newly-signed forward Ever Guzman, the team had no goals from the forward position going back to July.  Darren Powell and the SAFC technical staff added late season reinforcements, including Guzman and Jamaican International Omar Gordon, who have contributed significantly to the late season offensive resurgence of SAFC.  4 goals in the last 3 games for Guzman portend well for what SAFC hopes is a deep playoff run.  With the Real Monarchs loss last night, SAFC now has home field advantage through the Western Conference finals as long as the Alamo City squad remains alive.

Tulsa Roughnecks will pose an interesting challenge
In a pregame article by Kendrick Marshall of the Tulsa World, Roughnecks head coach David Vaudreuil provided a preview on how Tulsa intended to approach the match:

“They have to set the tone and not be on the defensive,” Vaudreuil said. “We want to get chances without exposing ourselves. We want to counter attack. It will be much more tactics and rehearsal than normal.”

A link to the Tulsa World article, with more quotes from Vaudreuil:

http://www.tulsaworld.com/sportsextra/soccer/roughnecks/roughnecks-looking-to-make-history-in-postseason-match-at-san/article_785a55e4-7fe2-5647-b250-608ae3821cd4.html

Early in the season SAFC enjoyed a run of success by conceding possession and burning opponents on the counterattack, with leading goal scorer Billy Forbes leading the way.  Later in the season and especially in the final regular season match, a 3-1 victory over RGV FC, SAFC seemed to be more aggressive from the start of matches.  The additions of Guzman and Gordon to an already talented forward line led by Forbes and Kris Tyrpak, allow SAFC to take the same aggressive approach tonight.  The superb backline that consists of 3 former MLS defenders, led by USL defender of the year candidate Sebastian Ibeagha, has the capability to protect Diego Restrepo against a counterattack strategy.
Tulsa has 3 dangerous attackers:  Ian Svantesson-11 goals, Joey Calistri-9 goals and Juan Pablo Caffa-9 goals.  Playing a defensive approach and counting on one of these three attackers to win a low scoring game on a counter against SAFC may not be the best approach given the strength of the SAFC backline and Diego Restrepo’s excellent form this season.

 

 This is a match SAFC should win.

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