Home Red Black 90 Feature Stories Breaking Down San Antonio FC’s 2018 Schedule

Breaking Down San Antonio FC’s 2018 Schedule


As the Hobbits in the Shire might say – it’s time for Second Christmas. Or, as USL fans might call it – the annual USL schedule release day. And with the start of the regular season still several weeks away, we have plenty of time to pick it all apart and speculate about how it might play out for the Alamo Boys. So, what better way to kill some of that idle time than by doing just that and offering some first impressions of the schedule? We got our first glimpses into how the year would shape up for SAFC a week ago when home openers were announced for the league. That shined the light on the first three matches of the season. And it’s always best to start at the beginning.

  • The Opening Three Matches

There may not be any green involved on either side, but it’ll be a Festive St Patrick’s Day 2018 all the same for San Antonio FC and their fans as they kick off the new campaign on the road for the third straight season. This time, it’ll be out West in what has to be one of the most anticipated Western Matchups to start the season. Each team has finished top two in the West once in the previous two seasons, so you can bet these recent USL West heavyweights will want to get off on the right foot by taking all three points on Match Day.

1. Especially for Sacramento, who have yet to defeat San Antonio FC in three tries. On the other end of the spectrum, San Antonio FC has yet to lose on opening day. Those are two trends that point favorably in San Antonio’s direction, but both previous matches between these two teams in Sacramento have ended in Draws. Will this be the year we see a winner in Sac town? San Antonio FC might want to get a good look at Papa Murphy’s Park while they’re there. With a potential MLS move for Sacramento on the horizon and a forthcoming third conference coming to USL, you never know; this could very well be the last trip the team ever makes to the Republic’s ground, so take it in and enjoy the matchup while we still have it.

The following week will see San Antonio welcome on old familiar side for their home opener – Saint Louis FC. St Louis returns to the USL West in 2018 after spending the 2017 season in the Eastern Conference. It will be the first match between the two clubs since early September 2016, also at Toyota Field. Saint Louis took home a 3-1 victory on that occasion. Saint Louis will be playing their second straight road match in Texas, as they start the season the week before down in the valley against RGV. For two teams that are destined to be Central Conference opponents come 2019, this will be a good way for fans to ease their way back into what will surely become a contested long-term regional rivalry.

It’s back out West once again the following week as San Antonio will be part of LA Galaxy 2’s home opener on March 31st. It’ll be an early test for the squad to make two long Western road trips in three weeks against traditionally tough opponents. No doubt, it’ll be a bit of a grinder to start the season for the Silver and Black. Although, San Antonio has held up well on the road vs LA2, picking up two draws in two matches. With having two of the first three on the road, San Antonio will be hoping they can catch some of the same magic they had in 2017, when early season West Coast road matches proved to be very fortuitous. San Antonio poured in 9 goals over a three game road stretch, while on their way to an overall five match winning streak that set the tone for San Antonio’s second place finish a year ago.

  • The Rivals

No question one of the first places San Antonio fans looked on the schedule was for their Texas rivals, Rio Grande Valley FC. For the second season in a row there will be three matches against the Toros. Last year it was two at home and one away, so it only seems fair that this season will see SAFC head to the valley twice. The two away matches come first, on May 12th and August 29th respectively. SAFC fans not planning on making the road trips will have to wait all the way until the last game of the season, October 13th, to see RGV at Toyota Field. For the third straight season SAFC will end the regular season against the Toros. San Antonio was much improved vs RGV in 2017, winning two of three matches. This after not winning any of their four meetings in SAFC’s inaugural season in 2016. San Antonio will be hoping for more of the same this season, and if playoff seedings are on the line, it’ll make the season long wait worth it.

It’ll be a Playoff rematch loaded with fireworks for San Antonio FC and Oklahoma City Energy as the two teams meet on Independence Day at Toyota Field – a Wednesday match – for the first time since OKC ended SAFC’s playoff run in Penalty Kicks last October. Not counting the 2018 expansion teams, OKC Energy is the only USL West team that SAFC has never beaten (5 draws and 2 losses, all time). And with playoff revenge on the minds of all, you can bet this special Holiday matchup will be explosive both on and off the field.

There’s a little bit of debate over who San Antonio FC’s other main regional rival should be. Tulsa seems the most logical based on geography, but San Antonio has dominated them in USL play, winning 5 out of 5. An Open Cup win for the Roughnecks makes them marginally more interesting, but it’s hard to build a rivalry when overall it’s so one sided. Many fans would no doubt crave for Phoenix Rising given the recent player movement. But the schedule makers seem to think it’s Swope Park Rangers who fit this bill the best, as they are the only other team SAFC will face three times in 2018. As with RGV, the home games are flipped. It was two in Swope last year and it’ll be two at Toyota Field this season. With only one win in six matches, San Antonio has definitely struggled vs baby Sporting Kansas City and will be looking to turn it around in 2018.

And speaking of Phoenix, there’s no way we can finish off rivalry talk without mentioning them. In what will arguably be the most anticipated match of the season at Toyota Field, fans will have to wait all the way until September 8th to witness Billy Forbes and Devin Vega in visiting colors. And all the way until August 22nd until the teams meet at all. That will make it more than a calendar year between meetings, having last played in July 2017. San Antonio earned the sweep last season with two vintage, hard fought, and strongly contested 1-0 victories. And they have won three of five all time vs the Phoenix Rising/Arizona United franchise. That’s a trend San Antonio would very much like to see continue.

  • The New Guys

There will be three new faces in the USL West this season. As previously mentioned, St Louis FC makes a return to the USL West after spending one season in USL East. But the other two arrivals will be truly fresh faced as they make their league debuts in 2018. Fresno FC – already nicknamed The Foxes – will be the new affiliate of MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps. As such, we wave goodbye to the Whitecaps 2 team. San Antonio will be sad to see them go. They never lost to the Canadian side, earning three wins in three matches. SAFC will meet Fresno twice in three weeks, first on April 21st on the road at Chukchansi Park (the name comes from an Indian tribe and Resort of the same name), and then they make their Toyota Field debut two weeks later on May 5th to close the season series.

In what has to be the most anticipated road trip for SAFC fans – and likely, for all of USL West – the other newcomer this year is Las Vegas Lights FC. Las Vegas is in the middle of a bit of a sports renaissance, adding the NHL’s Golden Knights, the NFL’s Raiders, and the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces – you might remember them as the San Antonio Stars – all in the last couple of years. It remains to be seen how the locals will take to soccer, but if it’s anything like we’ve seen across the country in recent years, you can expect a vibrant atmosphere. San Antonio makes the trip on April 27th, long before the oppressive desert heat will kick in. Unfortunately, both Fresno and Vegas will be playing in converted baseball stadiums, but hopefully the excitement of the local fans will make up for what will surely be less than ideal playing surfaces. The trip to Vegas is sandwiched between the two Fresno games, so that makes it three consecutive weeks of matches vs the new guys.

  • Road Trips & Weekdays

For the third year in a row San Antonio will be on the road during Fiesta. It’s safe to say that this annual road trip is as set in stone as the Rodeo Road trip for the parent club. And aside from wanting to see SAFC in a third Fiesta jersey, who can argue? Fiesta is as Puro San Antonio as it gets and no one wants to compete with it.

Of larger consequence, at least on paper, has to be the enormous late season road trips. In a stretch of twelve matches from July 25 through September 22, San Antonio plays a whopping nine games on the road. You heard that right – there will only be three home matches over a near-two-month stretch of the summer. Included in that road swing are some of the toughest challenges of the season. Phoenix, RGV, the defending USL West top seed Real Monarchs, and two-time defending USL West Champions Swope Park Rangers are all part of it. Far from easy. With such a long, daunting stretch of road games looming, San Antonio will need to start hot again in 2018. Road points are always tough to come by, and it would behoove SAFC to bag as many points in the front half of the season as they possibly can.
While fans may be happy about avoiding the late summer heat, it’s the second year in a row where the Toyota Field stands will remain empty for long stretches late in the season. Let’s hope the results on the field will be enough to keep the fans engaged during that span.

Of course, on the flip side of that, San Antonio gets to close the season with three straight at home. That could be hugely important if playoff seeding is on the line, late. And if they can finish top four in the West again, that could mean a very long stay at home in the Fall for SAFC, into the Playoffs and beyond.

San Antonio will also be home for three straight in June. There may be a World Cup in 2018 but unlike MLS, who are taking a nine day break in June, it won’t affect the USL schedule in any way. Hopefully that will help soccer fans take the sting out of the USA not qualifying.

Weekday games are a big part of the schedule this year. The team will play six matches on Wednesdays, once on Friday, and once on Monday. That’s one quarter of the season falling on weekdays. For SAFC fans, only two of those are at home, both on Wednesday. And one of those is the previously mentioned holiday affair on July 4th. Unpopular opinion – I think it would be fun to get more of these weekday matches at home – or even Sunday afternoon matches – if for no other reason than to break up the Saturday monotony.

  • Final Thoughts

Overall, USL did a really good job balancing the schedule for San Antonio FC. They play every team in the West twice, and only two teams three times. It would have been nice to have a couple of Eastern teams on the schedule in place of those third matches – how fun was it to play Tampa Bay last season? – but certainly financial and travel considerations go into all of that decision making.

And don’t forget about the US Open Cup, which should be arriving in late May. San Antonio will be hoping for some luckier flips of the coin this season. In two US Open Cup appearances, SAFC has only managed to be drawn into one home match in five games. It certainly would be well appreciated by the home fans if Toyota Field could get more of those matches.

Ultimately, no matter who they play, or when, or where – it all comes down to performance and results. San Antonio FC will be looking for another season of consistent play. Do that and they’ll be in good position to go chase a USL Cup Championship. The Hobbits will tell you, it’s the ring that matters. One ring, to rule them all.

What are your thoughts on the 2018 schedule? What matches are you looking forward to seeing the most? What games are you planning to travel for? Leave us a comment here or on social media (@RedBlack_90) to join the conversation.

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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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