With San Antonio FC’s first ever playoff game just 48 hours away, I asked our staff along with other media members to get in their predictions for Saturday’s big match.
Let’s kick things off with my prediction, shall we? While SAFC has had success against Tulsa in their all-time history, fans should not expect an easy ride when the two teams hit the pitch this weekend.
SAFC has only lost one home match dating back to September 2016 and eliminating them in front of their rowdy Toyota Field fans will not be an easy task. Tulsa’s backline has struggled as of late and I suspect that will be their undoing in the match. Prediction: SAFC wins 1-0.
Samantha Garcia: San Antonio will win the match 2-0. Very simple reasons for my prediction are Deigo Restrepo and SAFC’s defense. San Antonio likely has the Goalkeeper of the Year between the pipes these playoffs and in the piece I wrote earlier in the week, their backline will be key to keeping a struggling Roughnecks team off the board.
Jonathan Check, Pitch Black News: Historically, SAFC has a perfect record against the Roughnecks in USL play…and it’s hard to see that changing Saturday night. SAFC has won three of their last four matches coming into the playoffs, while Tulsa has lost three of four, including at home 2-0 to SAFC on Sept. 30. Add in the fact SAFC is hosting this matchup and Tulsa clearly has an uphill battle; I expect they’ll give SAFC a harder match than some might expect, but it’s too much of a climb.
One caveat: if this goes to a penalty kick shootout, history is on Tulsa’s side. SAFC pushed them to extra rounds in the U.S. Open Cup on May 31 but ultimately fell short. There would be much more pressure on SAFC – trying to right the wrongs of the Open Cup, winning at home, etc – if it went to spot-kicks on Saturday, and I’m not sure they could handle it. Again though, I expect SAFC to win outright, so this is likely hypothetical. Score prediction: SAFC 2-1 TUL.
Kyle Mahnke, Pitch Black News: “Defense wins championships” isn’t an original take, but it fits the play style of Darren Powell’s San Antonio FC. Diego Restrepo finished as the 2017 USL regular season leader in clean sheets and Sebastien Ibeagha is a front runner for defensive player of the year. Combined with Stephen McCarthy playing some of the best soccer we’ve ever seen him play, the SAFC defense is built to weather most opposing attacks. On the other side of the field, Ever Guzman and the SAFC attacking third closed the regular season on a hot streak. Barring a complete defensive collapse, I foresee San Antonio FC playoff matches ending with very low scores, but with the Alamo City on top.
Aaron Marvel, MLS in SA: Looking at the three matchups between these two teams in 2017, it was a series that was largely dominated by SAFC. Despite a 0-0 draw in Open Cup play that lead to SAFC being bounced in Penalty Kicks, when it came to USL play, SAFC owned the scoreboard by a combined 5 goals to 1. To me, the danger in this match, and going forward in the payoffs, is the opening goal. San Antonio only has 1 come from behind win in 2017 in 9 instances of giving up the first goal of a match. This isn’t a team built for comebacks. And also, beware of the tie. San Antonio is 0 for 2 in PK shootouts in 2017. But in this Western Quarterfinals matchup, San Antonio is the better team, on paper and on the field. If they play on the front foot, as I expect them to, I don’t think they’ll have much trouble. Their offense is heating up at the right time with the emergence of Guzman as a legitimate scoring threat, thereby providing a new 1-2 combination for SAFC scoring and assist leader Billy Forbes. And this defense, lead by two huge off-season signings in Ibeagha at CB and Restrepo in net, is just too good. Combined with the friendly confines of Toyota Field where SAFC only lost once in the regular season – Tulsa has their work cut out for them. San Antonio won’t be denied their first ever playoff win on Saturday night. Give me SAFC with a 3-0 victory.