San Antonio FC (SAFC), in only its second year as a USL franchise, produced a superb 17-4-11 record (62 points and a +21 goal differential) in the USL regular season, finishing in second place in the Western Conference. The club then won its first playoff game in history when they defeated Tulsa Roughnecks in the opening round. Unfortunately the season came to end the next weekend when the club suffered a heartbreaking loss in penalties to OKC Energy. The early end to the season can’t take away from the outstanding 2017 performance, which included a 14 game unbeaten streak to open the season. The real story of the SAFC year though, was a lock-down defense that was the backbone of the teams success this past season.
The statistics tell the story (regular season and playoffs combined unless noted):
- Surrendered a league low 24 goals in the regular season (an average of 0.75 per game).
- 672 minute streak where they didn’t concede a goal (April 28-June 17)-2nd longest in USL history
- 15 total shutouts (tied with league champions Louisville City) delivered by first, Matt Cardone, and then Diego Restrepo after Cardone was injured. SAFC’s 15 regular season shutouts led the league.
Additionally, both centerback Sebastian Ibeagha and Restrepo were named USL Defender and Goalkeeper of the Year respectively
- Sebastian Ibeagha was a force all year for the club. He joined the team in the offseason after his option was declined by the Houston Dynamo. Ibeagha led the league in clearances with 190 and headed clearances with 92. He was also the team leader in interceptions and blocks. There were times where it looked like his individual efforts were keeping the team in matches himself, especially game saving clearances and blocks.
- Diego Restrepo joined the club near the end of the preseason and was given the starting goalkeeper position when Matt Cardone suffered what ended up being a season ending injury early in the year. Restrepo led the USL with 12 shutouts and finished second in the league with a 0.80 goals-against average. His 76.4 save percentage was the highest of any goalkeeper to log more than 2,000 minutes in the 2017 regular season. Restrepo will be back next year as he was announced as the first SAFC player signing for the 2018 season in November. The story of how Restrepo was within days of accepting a coaching position and ending his career before SAFC called earlier this year is below:
Many pieces of this outstanding defense have been resigned and could serve as a catapult to even bigger success next year. For 2017 though, they were the USL’s best defense and fully deserve to be one of the Top 10 Texas soccer stories of the year.
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