Match Day 21 will see San Antonio FC back home for one of only two home matches in the month of August. They welcome in another MLS “2” side this week in Los Angeles Galaxy 2. We caught up with Chris Tucker (@ZeroCool138) co-host of the Riot Squad Cast (@RiotSquadCast) to get his insights on all things Los Dos. Here we go into another edition of the Six-Pointer Preview.
- 1 – It has been a long time since we saw LA2 – it was way back on Match Day 3, a scoreless draw out in southern California. Catch us up on how the season has gone for LA2. What has stood out?
(CT) Sitting 28th out of 34 the seasons gone about as G’s fans would’ve expected. Last season we purged a significant amount of players who were deemed to not be “of the necessary level” so we’re in the midst of a transition period for G2.
- 2 – Every “2” team seems to have a different philosophy about how to approach their games. Is LA2 concerned about winning performances in USL, or is it more important to groom players for senior team play?
Winning is secondary, at best, to developing the proper mentality and skills to eventually contribute to the first team. We could finish dead last in the league and everyone in charge of the organization could keep their jobs. We play kids for a reason.
- 3 – LA2 scores a whole lot of goals (13 more than SAFC as of this writing). The problem is clearly on defense, where they have surrendered 42 goals, tied for third most in all of USL. What has made this such a hard year defensively for LA2?
What’s been interesting to me is we’re 6th overall in goals for and 5th overall for goals against so suffice to say our games aren’t boring. Defensively we’ve changed a lot in the last season. Hugo Arellano, who is a fan favorite, was the one major holdover from last seasons team. Robert Castellano, Josh Turnley, and Tyler Turner were all starters last year who are gone this year.
This season it’s been a return to the MLS Draft and using G2 to develop them. Hilliard-Arce’s struggles have been surprising but he’s also pulling double duty with the first team. Next season, if they stay together which they should, we expect to see a significantly improved LAG2 defense.
- 4 – The one-two offensive punch of Efrain Alvarez and Ethan Zubak (17 goals between them) is the stuff of envy for a team like San Antonio, whose goal-scoring leader sits at 4. Tell us more about those players and what has made them so effective this season?
Ethan Zubak (20), who captained the club last week, has had a few games where he scores in bunches and then goes on a dry spell for a few weeks. He got 4 of his 9 goals against Las Vegas just a few weeks ago. Efrain, on the other hand, is the crown jewel of the Galaxy organization. If Zlatan is the King then Efrain is the Prince. Efrain is a very, very creative #10. Imagine a Giovani dos Santos that actually performs every week. He’s currently the subject of a lot of conversation for whether he will choose the Mexican National team or the USMNT. He also just turned 16.
Ethan, like Efrain, are players destined for the first team. They’re the product of the academy system and what we envisioned when we began the ‘2nd team in USL’ project.
- 5 – Seven road losses for LA2 this season. Think they can pull off a result in the tough confines of Toyota Field? What’s your prediction for the match?
We’re 1-7-2 on the road so another L is a safe bet.
- 6 – What’s your prediction for where Los Dos will finish on the Table and how will their season end?
Given how far down the table we are, how late into the season, and how most of these players aren’t playing for their jobs, I feel comfortable saying we’ll finish outside of a playoff spot. The mentality of the fans is “We want to win everything” but luckily we’re managed by people who understand if Efrain and Ethan can get on the same page, rise up through the ranks, and get some 1st team minutes any thrown away USL season is well worth it.
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC – D L W W W, 2018 Home Record 5-3-2
Los Angeles Galaxy 2 – W W L L D, 2018 Road Record 1-2-7
San Antonio FC – 31 points, GF 23, GA 23, 0 GD, 8th in USL West
Los Angeles Galaxy 2 – 20 points, GF 36, GA 42, -6 GD, 14th in USL West
All-Time History (W-D-L)
Each team has one win and one loss in this series – both at Toyota Field. LA’s win came in 2016 and San Antonio won this fixture last season. They have drawn three times in LA. The all-time series is 1-3-1.
3/31/18 @ LA2 – Draw 0-0
8/4/18 @ SA
It was a scoreless affair at the Stub Hub center in LA back in March that featured eight yellow cards. Two of them were picked up by Mikey Lopez, who was sent off with his second yellow in the 77th minute. San Antonio out possessed LA 57% to 43% but they were out-shot 8 to 4 and neither team could cash in with a goal. Here are the match highlights:
The Matchup (W-D-L)
Los Angeles Galaxy 2 (5-5-11) at San Antonio FC (8-7-5) #SAvLA
Saturday, August 4th, 2018
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPN+
Key to victory
What a difference a week can make. San Antonio finished off a perfect three-match week by taking down Oklahoma City for the first time in the history of the franchise, a 2-1 road victory. In doing so, they have earned their longest winning streak of the season, now at three matches. And more importantly, they have completely changed their playoff positioning. They will enter this week in the eighth playoff spot. But with a game in hand, they could leap into sixth with another victory. And with two straight games against two of the bottom three teams in the West, San Antonio has a real shot of making it five straight wins.
While San Antonio was a bit fortunate in the match against Oklahoma City, you can’t take anything away from a team playing their best football of the season. San Antonio cleared a shot off the line in the second minute, and after OKC took the lead in the second half, instead of putting SAFC away, they opened the door for the San Antonio comeback by committing an unnecessary penalty on Presley. But San Antonio will take all of it. Things are finally bouncing their way.
There were some really great signs for San Antonio in this one. Lopez scored his first goal since March 24th. Granted it was a penalty, but if that’s what it takes to get him back in the scoring saddle, so be it. That’s also a goal and an assist for Lopez in the last three games. If he’s going to be involved in SAFC’s attack consistently, that’s a big plus for San Antonio.
Guzman’s winner was particularly impressive – and not just the fun celebration. That’s two goals in two straight starts for the Forward who had the first half of his season derailed by injury. If Guzman is going to be the scorer we all thought he would be this entire season, well…. that changes everything. That would make San Antonio a very dangerous team.
It was also impressive considering who wasn’t there. Four players were on the injury list and two more were suspended. That meant only Christian was a healthy scratch on Saturday. Hedrick and McCarthy had their second defensive pairing of the week, and Charlie Ward got on the Assist sheet. That’s the tenth player to record an Assist for SAFC this season (eighth in league play). This team is getting meaningful contributions from deep down the bench, and it’s paying big dividends during this current streak. Especially with all the lineup shuffling that comes with three matches in eight days.
LA2 comes into this match having lost two of their last three and they are coming off a short week. They tied Swope 1-1 on Wednesday night. LA2 is actually a pretty decent scoring threat. They have 13 more goals than SAFC this season. Kind of crazy for a team so low on the table. But then you look at their goals allowed and you see the problem. They’ve given up the third most goals in all of USL.
Last weekend was the perfect example of their season in the microcosm of one game. They scored three goals which should be plenty for a win, but they gave up four and it was zero points for LA2. San Antonio would do well to be cautious defensively, but this seems like a ripe opportunity for an offensive breakout.
We like San Antonio’s chances in this one. And quite frankly, if they do want to finish as a playoff participant, with how they are playing right now AND facing a team in the bottom of the table AND facing a team on a short week AND playing at home, this has to be three points for San Antonio FC. We think it will be. Let’s make it four straight for the silver and black.
San Antonio FC – 3
Los Angeles Galaxy 2 – 0
SAFC “Did You Know?”
Both teams have scored 3 goals in this series one time. San Antonio did it on 4/1/17, a 3-0 victory for SAFC. LA2 did it on 7/23/16, a 3-2 victory for Los Dos.