For a team that did not exist until January of 2016, the inaugural season for San Antonio FC in the United Soccer League (USL) was one of learning and growth. The club stated getting into the playoffs was the main goal, but fell one win shy of said goal.
As SAFC gets ready for year two to begin this weekend, the team has their eyes on reaching the playoffs and has a strong roster to make that push. Gone is goalkeeper Josh Ford, who announced his retirement in the offseason, and in steps Matt ‘The Beard’ Cardone. Jason Johnson left San Antonio to be a member of Phoenix Rising FC and Manolo Sanchez also departed.
San Antonio added Billy Forbes, who fans may remember from his playing days with the now-folded San Antonio Scorpions of the NASL, who he led to a championship in 2014. Hometown product Devin Vega has been the talk training camp and preseason, with Head Coach Darren Powell giving the 18-year-old high praise.
Devin is someone who is just 18, but his passion is something I love in him,” he said.
Other notable additions included were in the backline. Greg Cochrane will be getting help from players like Sebastian Ibeagha and Cyprian Hedrick, making the job much easier on Cardone in net. SAFC also inked Diego Restrepo to back up Cardone after Ford’s retirement.
San Antonio’s defense was something to keep an eye out in preseason. SAFC recorded three consecutive clean sheets and allowed just one goal in their draw against Tulsa at Toyota Field on March 11.
“Our defense is where it starts,” Cochrane told me at the team’s annual media day. “We have to do whatever we can to make it as difficult for the other teams to get set up and score. That starts with me and everyone else back there.”
With solid defense and a high powered offense, San Antonio FC could not only reach the playoffs, but do something special in year two.
Predictions from the RB90 staff:
Stephen: San Antonio FC signed 13 new players in total. This season has a very different feel to it than last year. If everyone stays healthy, SAFC will punch their ticket to the USL playoffs and have home field advantage. After that? Anything can happen.
Samantha Garcia: SAFC will make the playoffs for the first time in team history, but RGV FC and OKC will prove to be big tests for San Antonio this season. We could even see the two rivialries renewed in the postseason. Oh, and Billy (Forbes) will lead the team in goals.