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A Tale of Two Turning Points


It may have been the most unlikely of turning points in San Antonio’s season, and it wasn’t what did happen, but what didn’t. It might be hard to remember how things were going for SAFC after two big-time victories in a row that have San Antonio riding their first winning streak of 2018. Just in time for the Texas Derby, against their biggest USL rivals RGV Toros this Saturday night, too. But allow me to go back and paint the picture.

San Antonio had one victory in six games. They had only scored four goals on the season. The man behind one of those four goals, Kris Tyrpak – 25 percent of SAFC’s goal-scoring production to that point – had just been let go by the team and he was now playing in South Florida instead of South Texas. San Antonio was in a tough road environment on an even tougher playing surface. And then it happened. In the 11th minute, on a seemingly harmless loose ball in the midfield, San Antonio captain Ryan Roushandel came flying into Freddy Adu with a very high boot. He appeared to catch him in the face with his studs. It easily could have been a red card.

But it wasn’t. Remarkably, it ended up being what can only be described as a very harsh yellow against Adu. No card for Roushandel. Five minutes later Guzman was scoring his first goal of the season and SAFC’s hot streak was on its way, and the rest is recent history.

That close. That close to this season taking a very bad turn for SAFC. It’s hard to imagine morale being much lower for SAFC as a team and for their fans than it would have been if San Antonio had gone down to ten men so early in such a tough road environment. In all likelihood, we’re talking about another draw at best, or even worse, another loss. Who knows if SAFC would have scored that night at all? It’s quite possible they wouldn’t have, and the talk would have been about how two road games had produced two straight red cards, no goals, and oh, by the way, don’t forget we just sent our second leading scorer from 2017 packing. Talk about bleak.

The second turning point might have been what happened on that Guzman goal, minutes later. In a cruel twist of fate for Guzman, after finally putting his rough start to 2018 behind him with his first goal, he suddenly found himself being subbed off of a very ugly pitch with an injury. Replacing him? None other than fan favorite Alex Bruce. Bruce didn’t score that night in Vegas, but he did put the ball in the net twice, each time getting the play called back. But the next week, on the night of his first ever professional start, he didn’t miss the target when Darnel King sent in a sublime pass into the box. Welcome to the Alex Bruce era.

Bruce was not shy about what it meant to him.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment since I was a little kid,” he said after the match. “I know I saw my dad and he was in tears the whole time, so it’s a pretty good feeling.”

How great is that? And to think, that moment may never have happened if Guzman doesn’t go down. After only receiving one brief sub appearance on opening night, Bruce had not seen the pitch again before Guzman’s injury. There was really no indication from Head Coach Darren Powell that he was planning to make a major change to the top of the lineup despite the offensive struggles. After such an impressive pre-season, fans were more than ready to see him get his chance. After all, if no goals came, how would that be any different than what we had seen for most of the opening six matches? What did San Antonio have to lose?

Bruce even spoke to this point after the match on Saturday night.

“Being the new kid it was a bit shaky,” he said. (There’s always the question of) ‘should we go with him, should we not,’ but they have trust in me and I thank the coaches for that, for putting their trust in me.”

It all seems moot now. The team avoided disaster in Vegas. Bruce has his first start. He has his first professional goal. San Antonio is performing the best that they have all season. And the team will take a winning streak into the first of three very important matches with their in-state rivals.

If you’re a believer in fate, it’s hard not to think this team was struck with a bit of good fortune in the desert in the early goings of that Vegas match. Or maybe it was that Vegas-style Lady Luck. Like betting the right number at the right time on the Roulette table or that perfect dice roll at the Craps table that sends the onlookers into a frenzy.

Either way, it’s funny how things work out sometimes. Would Bruce have gotten his shot at some point in 2018? We’d like to think YES, but who knows? Perhaps not. Maybe if Guzman doesn’t go down, he scores again and things are simply back on track. Status Quo.

Maybe if Roushadel is red carded and SAFC loses in Vegas the whole season spirals out of control.

It’s a long season. You could get lost in all the maybes. But for WHAT IS and for WHAT’S NEXT, it’s up to Bruce to continue to capitalize on this opportunity. No one knows how long Guzman will be out. It could be another week – or it could be an extended absence. It’s up to Bruce to prove to the coaching staff that he is ready and that his time has arrived. He’s succeeded everywhere he has played in his young career. So far, USL hasn’t proven to be too big for him either. But one match does not make a career. Now he needs to do it again. And again. And again.

No pressure, kid.

To be sure, it’s not all up to Bruce. Or Guzman, whenever he returns. Restrepo needs to keep making highlight reel saves like this one.

Darnell King and Ryan Felix need to keep up their high level of play. Sonny Guadarrama, Jose Escalante, and Pecka need to keep minding the middle. Omar Gordon needs to keep bringing his energy. Rafa Castillo his fighting spirit and free kicks. Mikey Lopez needs to get back in the mix. On and on and on.

If Bruce goes on to a successful season and his teammates come along for the ride, maybe we’ll all look back at that fateful 11th minute in the city of Sin when what didn’t happen, happened. And at that moment everything changed for SAFC. That’s the funny thing about turning points. You never know when they’re going to strike. But capitalizing on them is what matters the most.

So far, Bruce and San Antonio FC have. Let’s hope there is another successful chapter and another win on Saturday night at HEB Park in the valley. Nothing is more opportunistic than taking down your biggest rival.

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Stephen Michael 26, is a journalist, social media coordinator, host, and entertainment reporter. Michael graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and earned a Master's Degree in Digital Media in 2020 from the University of the Incarnate Word. He has worked covering the San Antonio Rampage, Stars, and San Antonio Futbol Club. He was the host of the Project Spurs Roundtable on NBC affiliate News 4 San Antonio from 2015-17.


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