SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Football Club began their 2021 USL Championship regular season with their home opener on May 1 and completed their fourth game on May 22 in celebration of their first ‘Viva Night’.
Here is a recap of their first four matches along with the key stats that stand out from their three wins and one loss:
SAFC vs Switchbacks FC
SAFC kicked off the start of their season with a home opener at Toyota Field on May 1 against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. San Antonio earned three points by claiming the first victory of their regular season with a 3-0 triumph over the Switchbacks.
The Switchbacks obtained 61 percent of possession while SAFC only had 39 percent, however, SAFC combated this with their domination in interceptions 27 to 11. San Antonio also outranked the Switchbacks with 17 total shots and five on goal compared to Colorado’s total of nine shots with one on goal.
SAFC stayed strong for the duration of the match as they held onto the shutout, giving goalkeeper Matt Cardone his first clean sheet of the season.
The first game of the season also featured two player debuts. First, was forward Santiago Patino who played in his first regular season match with SAFC. Patino certainly made a name for himself within the first match by earning a hat-trick. Former St. Mary’s University men’s soccer player Ollie Wright also made his professional debut in the first match when he subbed on in the 85th minute.
SAFC vs Real Monarchs SLC
SAFC took their home field for the second time this season at Toyota Field on May 8 against the Real Monarchs SLC. San Antonio obtained only one point as a result of a 2-2 draw against the Monarchs despite holding a two-goal halftime lead.
Despite improving their possession percentage, SAFC was again out possessed by their opponent 57.6% to 42.4%. They also managed to dominate in interceptions for the second match in a row with a total of 18 interceptions compared to eight by the Monarchs. San Antonio fell short 16-11 in the total number of shots, however, tied with the Monarchs 5-5 in shots on target which pushed them to a higher shooting accuracy percentage.
After midfielder Nathan Forgaça was shown a red card and ejected in the 30th minute for aggressive behavior, SAFC was forced to play a man down for the remainder of the match. San Antonio stayed strong despite playing a man down with goals from Marcus Epps and Emil Cuello. They lost the shutout after a goal from Colorado midfielder Ibrahim Bance in the 48th minute. Only seven minutes later, midfielder Bode Davis evened out the score with a second goal for the Monarchs.
SAFC vs RGVFC
SAFC hit the road for the first time this season with a match against Rio Grande Valley FC (RGV) on May 16 at H-E-B Park. San Antonio suffered their first loss of the season with a 2-1 defeat.
San Antonio’s possession rate again fell short of their opponent, but this time it regressed to 34.9% while the Toros held possession for 65.1% of the game. For the first time this season, SAFC also fell short in interceptions only reaching a total of nine compared to 17 by RGV. The Toros also limited SAFC to nine shots with only two on frame.
Despite the loss, there were positives to come from San Antonio’s match-up against the Toros. For instance, formerly injured yet highly impactful forward Jose Gallegos saw the field for the first time in the 2021 regular season. Patino also helped SAFC become the first team to score on the Toros this season with his goal in the 68th minute.
SAFC vs Birmingham FC
SAFC found themselves back home for their fourth match of the regular season at Toyota Field on May 22 in celebration of their first ‘Viva Night’. San Antonio also released their new ‘Viva Kit’ earlier in the week on May 19 in preparation for the match.
San Antonio welcomed Birmingham Legion FC to Toyota Field for the first match in history between the two clubs. SAFC bounced back from their loss against RGV the weekend before with a 2-1 victory over Birmingham. Like all of their games prior, SAFC was again out-possessed in their most recent match. San Antonio also fell short in their number of interceptions for the second game in a row with only a total of 13 compared to 15 by Birmingham. The two teams were close in the total number of shots with 16 by SAFC and 19 by Birmingham with each of them totaling only six shots on frame.
In the first four matches, SAFC has fallen short to each of their opponents in possession rate with their highest percentage reaching only 42.4%. However, despite their struggle to maintain possession, they are more successful than not at finding the ball in the back of the net. In fact, in all but one match SAFC has had the higher shooting accuracy. Having discipline on both sides of the ball will be crucial for them in the future.