Major League Soccer (MLS):
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. FC Dallas (FCD)
BC Place-Vancouver, B.C., Canada-9:00 p.m. CDT, Saturday, June 17, 2017
Record and Standings:
Vancouver Whitecaps: 6-6-1-19 points (Tied for fifth place in the Western Conference)
FC Dallas: 6-3-5-23 points (Tied for third place in the Western Conference)
An extra time own goal allowed FCD to beat Tulsa 2-1 and advance to the 5th round of the U.S. Open Cup, where they will host Colorado Rapids on June 28.
A Key Question:
Can FCD return to the dominating early season performance after experiencing a slump where it has only won once in the last six league matches?
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo
Stub Hub Center, Los Angeles, CA-10:00 p.m. CDT, Saturday, June 17, 2017
Record and Standings:
LA Galaxy: 5-5-3-18 points (Eighth place in the Western Conference)
Houston Dynamo: 7-6-2-23 points (Tied for third place in the Western Conference)
Memo Rodriquez scored in the 109th minute to lead the Dynamo to a 3-2 U.S. Open Cup win in added extra time against North Carolina FC in Cary, NC. The Dynamo played exclusively with a squad consisting of reserves and short-term contract players from Rio Grande Valley. Houston will now host Sporting KC at BBVA Compass Stadium in the next round June 28.
A Key Question:
Can the Dynamo build on its first road victory and also secure its first MLS road win, against an in-form but short-handed Galaxy, in the same week?
United Soccer League (USL):
San Antonio FC (SAFC) vs. Tulsa Roughnecks
Toyota Field-San Antonio-7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 17, 2017
Record and Standings:
San Antonio FC: 9-0-4-31 points (Second place in the Western Conference)
Tulsa Roughnecks: 5-6-0-15 points (Eighth place in the Western Conference)
A Key Question:
Is Cyprian Hedrick ready to step back in for the full 90 to replace suspended Steven McCarthy at center back?
Los Angeles Galaxy II (Los Dos) vs. Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (RGV FC)
H-E-B Park, Edinburg-7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 17, 2017
Record and Standings:
Rio Grande Valley FC: 5-4-2-17 points (Tied for fifth place in the Western Conference)
LA Galaxy II: 2-8-2-8 points (Fourteenth place in the Western Conference)
A Key Question:
How many Toros players returning from their stint with the Dynamo in NC will be in the lineup tomorrow?
Mixed results for the two Texas USL sides as Rio Grande Valley FC beat Seattle 3-1 in Edinburg and SAFC tied OKC Energy on the road last night.
Rio Grande Valley FC-3 Seattle Sounders 2-1
RGV FC: Jorginho James-16, Ruben Luna-62 (TJ Casner), Ivan Magalhaes-65 (Emilio Garcia) S2: Riley Grant-45+2 (Ray Saari)
MLS loaned players seem to be a mixed blessing
Last Wednesday night the Dynamo sent reinforcements to Reno to help RGV FC play their second game in 4 days. They lost 3-2 and blew two leads on the evening. In this game, partially because of the MLS break, Seattle Sounders sent 5 of their first team rostered players to Edinburg to get minutes (including two who also played against the Dynamo last Sunday). So they then lose 3-1. For the first time this season the Toros had no loan Dynamo players and scored 3 goals. Go figure. I also remember a game the Toros played against Swope Park Rangers in Kansas City last summer when a similar MLS break allowed the Rangers to field a virtually all MLS rostered players side. The Toros won convincingly. It makes you wonder whether the disruption caused by new players dropping in and out, no matter how talented, is more harmful than good for the USL sides. I recognize that the USL teams that are owned or managed by MLS franchises have different expectations and goals than independent USL teams. As the USL matures and grows, these contradictions are going to play out in fascinating ways in the future.
Jorginho James’s goal was stunning and will be hard to top for USL Goal of the Week or even the Month
0:15 into the game highlight video (from USL website) below:
OKC Energy-0 San Antonio FC (SAFC)-0
OKC: NONE SAFC: NONE
SAFC is still undefeated, even if the chance to set a USL record with six consecutive road wins was lost last night. Seven consecutive USL shutouts (eight if you count the U.S. Open Cup match they lost on penalties). Billy Forbes almost pulled out a late game winner when his 86th minute shot, off one of his patented runs where he beat two defenders, just slid past the far post.
Three goals in six league matches. Cesar Elizando going back on the injury report doesn’t help this scoring drought. The old adage about winning at home and tying on the road to win championships only applies if (1) you win at home which hasn’t happened lately, and (2) your opposition, in the form of Real Monarchs, doesn’t win eight games in a row. Real has now pulled two points clear of SAFC in the standings.
Image courtesy of USL Website and Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC
Game highlights from the USL Website:
Seattle Sounders 2 vs. Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (RGV FC)
H-E-B Park, Edinburg-7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 10, 2017
Record and Standings:
Rio Grande Valley FC: 4-4-2-14 points (Tied for Eighth place in the Western Conference) Home: 3-2-1
Seattle Sounders 2: 5-5-2-17 points (Tied for Third in the West) Away: 2-2-1
- The Toros will look to rebound from the disappointing 3-2 loss to Reno 1868, a game where they lost the lead twice. Three Dynamo rostered players (Kevin Garcia, Joe Holland and Memo Rodriquez) joined in Reno to bolster the RGV FC squad that is playing 3 games in 8 days. RGV FC is undefeated in its last three outings at H-E-B Park.
- Sounders 2 are coming off of an impressive 3-0 victory over LA Galaxy II last weekend. Unfortunately for them, forward Irvin Parra who had two goals and an assist in the victory and was named the USL Player of the Week, will miss the game due to yellow card caution accumulation.
OKC Energy FC vs. San Antonio FC (SAFC)
Taft Stadium-Oklahoma City, OK-7:30 p.m. CDT-Saturday, June 10, 2017
Record and Standings:
OKC Energy FC: 4-5-1-13 points (Eleventh place in the Western Conference) Home: 4-1-0
San Antonio FC: 9-0-3-30 points (Tied for first in the West) Away: 5-0-0
- Energy FC recorded its third win in the past four games with a 3-2 victory against Phoenix Rising FC on Tuesday night. Unfortunately forward Wojciech Wojcik, who scored twice, including the 69th minute game winner, fractured an elbow and will be out indefinitely. OKC will also be missing goalkeeper Cody Laurendi who is away on international duty.
- Undefeated SAFC can set a record for consecutive USL road wins with a victory Saturday night. Left back Greg Cochrane is serving a one game suspension after picking up a red card late in last weeks draw with Swope Park.
- SAFC’s success has been built on the back of its team defense. The team has only conceded four goals so far in 2017 and has now gone 555 minutes in league play without conceding a goal. SAFC also leads the league in shutouts with nine, six of them by reserve goalkeeper Diego Restrepo since replacing injured Matt Cardone in April.
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
SA: NONE SPR: NONE
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
SAC: NONE RGV: NONE
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:
San Antonio FC (SAFC) vs. Swope Park Rangers
Toyota Field, San Antonio-7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 3, 2017
Record and Standings:
Swope Park Rangers: 4-4-0-12 points (Tied for Eighth in Western Conference) Away: 0-3-0
San Antonio FC: 9-0-2-29 points (First in Western Conference) Home: 4-0-2
- Swope Park heads to San Antonio to play SAFC in the second half of the mid-season back-to-back games between the two sides. SAFC won in Kansas City 1-0 last weekend, despite having only 23% of the possession on the night. SAFC will be smarting from the loss in the Open Cup to Tulsa last Wednesday and will look to continue their streak of being the only remaining undefeated professional soccer team in North America. Swope Park will certainly be more rested than the home side, because the team didn’t have an Open Cup match. MLS owned USL teams are disqualified from this competition.
- San Antonio now has five straight shutouts (464 minutes). One potential complicating factor to maintaining this streak is that SAFC starting center defenders Sebastian Ibeagha and Stephen McCarthy will be suspended if they pick up another yellow card. Both USL and MLS have a policy that results in a one-game suspension if a player earns five yellow cards in a certain period of time. Ibeagha and McCarthy are currently on four.
- According to the Sporting Kansas City website, the Rangers will be missing several key players. Mark Anthony Gonzalez, the team’s 2016 Offensive Player of the Year, and Sporting KC loanee Colton Storm are sidelined due to injury. In addition, on-loan defender Erik Palmer-Brown is away at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup and Kevin Oliveira is in Portugal for a training camp with the Cape Verde National Team. SAFC will be missing players too, but good luck having the team tell us who is injured and how long they will be out.
- Sporting Kansas City announced on Wednesday it had signed 2016 USL All-League defender Amer Didic to an MLS contract. Didic is the third player from the Rangers to sign with SKC following Adrian Zendejas and Tyler Pasher. Given the talent on the SKC side, all three are likely to still primarily feature in USL for the remainder of the season.
Sacramento Republic FC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (RGV FC)
Papa Murphy’s Park, Sacramento, CA-10:00 p.m. CDT, Saturday, June 3, 2017
Record and Standings:
Sacramento Republic: 4-5-2-14 points (Tied for Fourth place in the Western Conference) Home: 2-1-0
Rio Grande Valley FC: 4-3-1-13 points (Seventh place in the Western Conference) Away: 1-1
- Sacramento Republic, after beating Reno 1868 2-0 on Wednesday night to advance to the Fourth Round of the U.S. Open Cup, returns to league action this weekend against Rio Grande Valley FC. Though Sacramento has played three more games than RGV FC, this will only be the fourth home game of the season for the Republic. The Toros on the other hand will only be playing their third away game. These schedule aberrations are why it makes little sense to pay attention to the standings this early in the year in USL.
- The Toros, who have not played since May 20, should benefit from the extra rest, but Sacramento head coach Paul Buckle was fairly giddy after Wednesday’s victory:
“We’re on a run,“ said Republic FC Head Coach and Technical Director Paul Buckle. “We moved the ball well and we snuffed out everything they had. I thought it was a totally complete performance.
- The Toros now enter a busy stretch of games. After the game in Sacramento, RGV FC heads to Reno to play the suddenly resurgent (at least in regular season play) 1868 squad. After that game the team return to the Valley on June 10 to play Sounders 2, the third match in 8 days.
- With the goal defender Kai Greene scored in the draw with LA Galaxy 2 two weeks ago, he becomes the eighth Toro to score this year. Only Dynamo reserve Memo Rodriquez, who played one game on loan at RGV FC this year, has scored multiple goals for RGV FC this year.
- The Monitor’s Sports Editor Greg Luca (@GregLuca) published an informative piece on Kai Greene and his charity work recently. Greene is a very good defender with a lot of upside in a position (right back) lacking a deep pool of talent in MLS. According to the article, he hopes to be in MLS this year and eventually play for the U.S. National Team. He certainly doesn’t lack confidence:
“I feel like I’m the best one-on-one defender in the league, to be honest,” Greene said. “Individually, I feel like I’ll take myself 10 times out of 10 against any winger that comes at me, or any forward that comes at me.”
Here is a link to the full article:
San Antonio FC travels to Oklahoma tonight to play fellow USL side, Tulsa Roughnecks, in a Third Round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match.
SAFC arrived here by beating Dutch Lions FC (NPSL) in Conroe 2-1 two weeks ago. Tulsa won a wild game against OKC Energy’s U-23 PDL team 5-3 to allow them to move on to this round. This will be first meeting of the year between the two USL teams, as their first regular season meeting will not occur until a few weeks from now at Toyota Field.
The winner of tonight’s game moves on to play a Fourth Round match against FC Dallas. This next round match will be played in Frisco if Tulsa wins and San Antonio if they win.
As part of their U.S. Open Cup previews, U.S. Soccer wrote a nice article, featuring San Antonio FC’s locals Maxi Rodriquez and Devin Vega. The link to the article is below:
Swope Park Rangers (SPR)-0 San Antonio FC (SAFC)-1
SPR: NONE SAFC: Mark O’Ojong-53 (Kris Tyrpak)
- SAFC’s impressive depth showed itself again last night as the game winning goal was scored by a recent addition, Mark O’Ojong. O’Ojong was a highly regarded midfielder in Seattle who was not resigned by the Sounders or Sounders 2 at the end of the 2016 season. The Cameroonian International 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 last year. In the press release announcing his signing, SAFC head coach Darren Powell alluded to the work that had taken place to bring him on board, when he discussed how excited he was to have him finally join the team. Making his first start in San Antonio, he scored on a header against the run of play, off a delicate chipped cross from former Swope Park Ranger, Kris Tyrpak.
- Swope Park certainly had good opportunities to win this game. Diego Restrepo made an excellent save to deny a shot in the 17th minute and Kevin Oliveira had a great chance to score in extra-time, but blasted the ball over the goal. Despite having only 23% of the possession, SAFC was able to counterattack effectively at times and saw Billy Forbes hit the post right after Restrepo’s early save.
- The OPTA statistics from this match were fascinating. They are a clear demonstration of how SAFC has used efficiency in front of the goal and intense team defending to become very difficult to beat. In addition to the 77 to 23% possession advantage, Swope Park made 651 passes with an 86% accuracy. The similar numbers from SAFC were 195 and 56%. The Rangers outshot SAFC 11-4. Swope Park had 13 more crosses (and they were almost twice as accurate) than SAFC. On the other hand, SAFC made its shots count…half of the four shots were on target and three of them came from within the penalty area. SAFC defended doggedly with 17 interceptions and 31 clearances. Finally, SAFC had the goal, which trumps all of these numbers. Next weeks rematch against Swope Park should be fascinating. The frustration SPR must feel could be translated into a different tactical approach on road.
Prior to this match SAFC will travel to Tulsa to play the Roughnecks in a third round U.S. Open Cup match Wednesday night. Another chance to put the superb depth to the test. A SAFC victory in this match will produce a highly anticipated game against FC Dallas in San Antonio during the fourth round.
Below are the last nights game highlights from uslsoccer.com.