Home Red Black 90 Match Day Six Pointer Preview: Fresno FC at San Antonio FC

Six Pointer Preview: Fresno FC at San Antonio FC

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Match Day 8 will see San Antonio FC return home for a bit of déjà vu, as for the second time in three games, SAFC will find themselves up against Fresno FC. It was a scoreless draw two weeks ago – what’s in store for us this week? Well, we talked with Andrew Ueland of Fire Squad Fresno (@firesquadfresno) to get some more perspective on Fresno FC.

  • 1 – (RB90) Last time we did this we got the team perspective. This time we wanted to get the fan perspective. First, what were your impressions of SAFC and the last match in general? It got testy with Tyrpak picking up his first red card in a SAFC uniform. And two weeks later, he’s not even a SAFC player any longer.

(AU) I was really impressed with your keeper Restrepo. We had some very good chances that I feel against other teams would have found the net. He seemed to have pretty good instincts and communicated with his back line well. As for the testiness, it was hot and 0-0 can get frustrating, so I can see how tensions built up. Tyrpak not being with the team anymore pretty much sums that up!

  • 2– What are your impressions of the Fresno roster overall, and do you have any early fan favorites?

I feel the balance between veterans and youth serves our team very well. Noah Verhoeven has been a standout in the early part of the season. Having him working with a veteran like Jemal Johnson has been fun to watch so far. Personally, I’d like to see our back line get stronger, and they have since given up early goals in the first couple games. From the Fire Squad perspective, Christian Chaney and Renato Bustamante will always be favorites as we’ve seen them go from Fuego to Foxes. Still amazing to thing Chaney was a center back a few short years ago.


  • 3 – Tell us about your supporters group Fresno Fire Squad – how did it come about, what are some unique things about the group, and what’s the supporters scene in Fresno like in general? Y’all looked like you were having fun a couple weeks ago.

Fire Squad always has a load of fun. We started 4/5 years ago to support the Fuego and haven’t looked back. People have never hung with Squad and not had a good time. The pregame meetups at Tioga Sequoia Brewing, the march to our section, our infamous away days, and our songs are all reasons people join. I truly have met some of the best people in my life because of Fire Squad. It is a wonderful and diverse collection of people who unite through soccer to show Fresno how much fun can be had. The scene in Fresno is mostly EPL and La Liga fans, and there are about 9 groups that meet regularly for their teams. People always are amazed to see groups getting together sometimes as early as 4 a.m. to watch a match. I personally own a bar to show Chelsea matches, and even though we all have different teams, most of us come together to support FFC through Fire Squad.

  • 4 – SAFC was the first team to shut out Fresno in their young history, and San Antonio has been really good at home these last two seasons, only losing twice. What needs to change for Fresno to get the best of SA this time around, and who has the advantage of meeting a familiar opponent for the second time in 3 weeks?

We definitely need to keep putting the pressure on Restrepo. If he keeps making saves like in Fresno, it will be difficult. On the defensive side, we have to keep the same effort for 90 minutes. We’ve had two late equalizers rip our hearts out when we’ve felt we had 6 points in the bag. I honestly don’t know who has the advantage this time around. As with any time you play an opponent the second time, the coaches tactics will certainly be a factor in what adjustments are made.

  • 5 – It has been an impressive run of draws for Fresno – 4 and counting. They have to feel like they let two points get away last week though, giving up a very late equalizer against Phoenix. How do you think that result will affect the team as they come into San Antonio?

Six straight unbeaten is really good, but it just doesn’t have that great of a feeling. Especially with late equalizers from Phoenix and Tulsa, we know points were left out on the pitch. We also have to look at the big picture, we’re a brand new team still establishing an identity, so 6 straight unbeaten is a definite positive. I’m sure a little frustration is stemming from the draws, but hopefully, veterans like Juan Pablo Caffa and Johnson keep the team focused. Speaking of Caffa, I hope he makes our fixture after taking one of the worst tackles I’ve seen in a long time in Phoenix.

  • 6 – Let’s have a little fun at the end. You guys are nicknamed the Foxes. The closest thing we have to a mascot is the Spurs Coyote. Who wins in a fight – the Fox or the Coyote? And any parting words about Fresno FC from the Fan Perspective?

I’m sure on paper the Coyote looks to be the favorite, but Foxes can be quite cunning! Also with Fire Squad’s support via song and Tecate, the Fox will definitely be inspired! All in all, it’ll probably be another draw!

Fresno FC has been truly positive in my eyes. There was some sentiment that with no more Fuego, the life might be sucked out of the support. Thankfully it hasn’t, and the support just continues to grow. Fresno FC’s commitment to community and a quality product on the pitch is something we can all be proud of.

Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC – D D L D W, 2018 Home Record 1-1-1
Fresno FC – W D D D D, 2018 Road Record 1-2-0

Table Position
San Antonio FC: 9 points, GF 7, GA 8, -1 GD, 11th in USL West
Fresno FC: 11 points, GF 10, GA 9, +1 GD, 7th in USL West

All-Time History (W-D-L)
This will be the second meeting between Fresno and San Antonio FC all time. 0-1-0

Last Time
We don’t have to go back very far, but it seems like it was a lifetime ago. Two weeks ago Diego Restrepo earned his second clean sheet of the season, the now former Midfielder Kris Tyrpak was red carded, and San Antonio left Fresno with a 0-0 draw.

Match Highlights:

The Matchup (W-D-L)
Fresno FC (2-5-1) at San Antonio FC (2-3-2) #SAvFRS
Toyota Field, Saturday, May 5th
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPN+
Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com

Key to victory

What a difference a couple weeks can make. Two weeks ago, SAFC was struggling to score goals, Kris Tyrpak was still one of SAFC’s leading offensive threats and the team seemed stuck in an early season rut as they continued to slide down the Western table. Two games and one offensive explosion later, San Antonio might finally be feeling like they turned a corner on the season. That of course, will largely depend on what happens at Toyota Field this Saturday night. One game does not make for a full turnaround, after all.

Tyrpak was released and has moved on to Miami FC 2, and somehow it was addition by subtraction, at least for one week. After only scoring 4 goals in their first six matches this year, San Antonio exploded for three goals in 50 minutes last week behind Guzman, Escalante, and Castillo from the PK spot. Guzman left the match immediately after his goal with a lower leg injury. No word on whether he will be fit enough to play this weekend, so we’ll assume it’s at least 50-50 that he won’t be available. USL broadcaster Mike Watts had the closest thing we found to an injury report, calling the Guzman injury in a Tweet “potentially devastating.” We’ll assume he was just using conjecture until we get an official report.

Whether he is available or not, San Antonio has to be encouraged by the play of Connor Presley and Alex Bruce. Bruce had two goals in the net that were called back. Presley had a gorgeous pass to start the counter on Escalante’s goal. Both have shown incredible promise and both have earned more playing time, in our view.

There seemed to be a philosophy change on Friday night in Vegas. There was less playing out of the back and more defend & counter from SAFC, which was the magical formula we frequently saw in 2017. On one of those counters, we were treated to a showcase of the sheer speed that Darnell King has. If he is going to produce runs like that, here’s to hoping we see him turned loose up the pitch with more frequency. And to think San Antonio only gave up one goal on a two-match road trip that featured zero appearances from McCarthy, Christian, or Hedrick in the middle of the defense, and one has to think this defense can still be so much better than they have been. And they have been above-average-good so far.

It has been a remarkable run of draws for Fresno as of late – four straight and counting, including the first, ever match between these two teams two weeks ago. Fresno won’t be feeling great about their last match – giving up a very late equalizer against Phoenix. They will surely feel like two points got away from them. For the second straight week, San Antonio can leapfrog their opponent in the standings with a win. They managed that feat last week with a victory in the Las Vegas desert. Technically the two teams are tied now after a Monday night draw for Vegas brought them up to 9 points. But Vegas also has a game in hand. Ahhh, that crazy USL table….we digress. Back to our main point – leapfrogging their opponent two weeks in a row would really have this team feeling good about themselves.

Fresno has yet to lose a match on the road, but we know how good San Antonio is at Toyota Field. We have the feeling that particular Fresno streak is about to come to end. We’re predicting a second straight victory for SAFC on Saturday night and a team that will feel like they’re finally moving in the right direction. And maybe with the wind blowing strongly at their backs as they progress into a very busy month of May. Can you believe it – Open Cup play will begin in just a couple of weeks. No better time to start piling up the wins. Hopefully, SAFC can deliver one for the home fans on Saturday night.

Prediction
San Antonio FC – 2
Fresno FC – 0

SAFC “Did You Know?”
SAFC Defender Cyprian Hedrick played PDL soccer with the Fresno Fuego, making 36 appearances and scoring six goals over three seasons from 2009-11.

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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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