Match Day 34 – the final regular season match day of 2018 – will see San Antonio FC ending their three-match homestand against their biggest USL rivals, RGV Toros FC. We once again turned to Carson Merk (@CarsonAMerk) of Dynamo Theory (@dynamotheory) to get the low down on what’s up in the valley as we get ready for the final edition of the Texas Derby in 2018.
- 1 – (RB90) Last time around for these rivals in 2018. How would you grade the 2018 RGV Toros?
(CM) I’d say a C. They missed the playoffs and that’s not something anyone is okay with. But, they have a talented young team and they improved as the season went on and never gave up, even during really rough stretches.
- 2– RGV is actually tied for second in USL West with 11 clean sheets. Pretty amazing for a team not in the playoff chase. Tell us about the GK season for RGV as a whole. 5 players have appeared in net this season.
That has been a position of strength all season for the Toros and two of the main three goalkeepers were rookies. Nico Corti was the primary option and Michael Nelson was also great when he went down on loan from the first team. Speaking of the Houston Dynamo, their star goalkeeper Tyler Deric was a gamechanger when he played between the sticks. For a young team, it was great to have that level of an eraser behind the defense.
- 3 – Jesus Enriquez leads RGV with 6 goals. He scored in the third minute last time out in this series. Tell us more about him and his style of play.
Chuy is the most exciting player to watch for the Toros. He is incredibly skilled and creative on the ball and he’s not afraid to take on a defender. It’s nice to see him starting to convert his chances, but he is definitely fun to watch.
- 4 – Todd Wharton appears to be the focal point of this team. He’s among the team leaders in goals and assists, and his first chances created by a wide margin – almost double the next player on the list. Is he someone RGV can build on, or might a move to the senior team be in his future?
I would say there is a very decent chance he’s signed to the first team in the offseason. Wharton is an elite passer and has been better this season in the final third. The club typically likes to rotate players out after a couple of seasons, so it could be first team or bust for the 2018 captain.
- 5 – RGV has not been good on the road in 2018 – only two wins. Does San Antonio even this series by earning another win? What’s your prediction for the match?
Honestly, I think the Toros might take this one. They have surprised a few quality teams this season and I think this will be another one. Give me RGV 2-1 with goals from Carlos Small and Chuy.
- 6 – What does RGV need to do to improve in 2019?
They need to improve…that’s all. They weren’t dangerous enough in the attack, but honestly, they simply need to keep getting better. Most times, the club didn’t have anyone over 25 years old on the pitch and they played a lot of rookies. Gerson Echeverry did a heck of a job to keep the guys focused and motivated and I’m confident with him running the show that this team will make the playoffs in 2019.
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC – L L L W W, 2018 Home Record 10-3-3
RGV FC – D W L W W , 2018 Road Record 2-5-9
San Antonio FC: 49 points, 44 GF, 47 GA, -3 GD, 8th in USL West
RGV FC: 37 points, 35 GF, 41 GA, -6 GD, 14th in USL West
All-Time History (W-D-L)
Saturday will mark the tenth meeting between these teams, and as you might expect with such a close regional rival, this is the most common opponent for SAFC in their history. RGV won three matches in 2016, SAFC won two last year. All-time, RGV still has the edge, but San Antonio keeps closing the gap and could draw even the points in the series with a win. All-time RGV has taken fourteen points against San Antonio’s eleven. SAFC is 3-2-4 against their in-state rivals.
5/12/18 @ RGV – DRAW 0-0
8/29/18 @ RGV – SA 3, RGV 1
10/13/18 @ SA
RGV scored in the third minute thanks to Jesus Enriquez, but it was a flurry of second-half goals from Presley, Laing, and Guzman that lead San Antonio to a 3-1 victory over RGV back in August. Here are the highlights.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
RGV FC (8-13-12) at San Antonio FC (14-7-12) #SAvRGV
Toyota Field, Saturday, October 13th, 2018
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPN+
Key to victory
It all comes down to this for San Antonio FC. The final match of a three-game homestand. The final match at Toyota Field in 2018. The final regular season match of 2018. And the final edition of the Texas Derby with just these two teams involved, as El Paso and Austin, will join the USL ranks in 2019.
It’s San Antonio FC vs RGV FC for the third time this season. San Antonio will look to finish the 2018 season unbeaten against their in-state rivals. Overall, San Antonio is riding a three-match unbeaten streak against RGV.
And 3-1 seems to be the score du jour of the moment. After a 3-1 victory over Las Vegas Lights on Saturday night, that makes two straight 3-1 wins for San Antonio FC in this do or die homestand. And the last two wins for San Antonio against RGV have come by that same 3-1 scoreline, including in August down in the Valley the last time these two teams for together. San Antonio will definitely take another 3-1 scoreline on Saturday night.
There are a few ways San Antonio can clinch a playoff spot this weekend. The simplest is a San Antonio win combined with a St Louis loss or a Swope loss or tie. Swope does not play until Sunday so it could be a wait and see proposition for San Antonio, even after the final whistle sounds on Saturday night.
It turns out the injury to Guzman wasn’t season ending as he not only got the start against Las Vegas, but he stole the show as well, earning San Antonio’s first brace of the 2018 season. The last brace for SAFC prior to that? Guzman. In the season finale, at home against RGV in 2017.
That’s not to diminish the performance of Liang who racked up ANOTHER match with a goal and an assist. It’s the fifth time he has done that in his eight starts in San Antonio. Laing is tied for the team lead in assists with King. For the entire season. King has played in 31 matches. Laing, in 9. Absolutely remarkable. And Ethan Bryant added his third assist of the season as well. It has been a gritty and inspired performance by SAFC to claw back into this position to potentially earn a playoff birth.
So, will their season extend into the USL Playoffs? We think it’ll come down to what happens with St Louis and Swope, b/c we expect that San Antonio completes an undefeated season against their Texas rivals. They finish the year on a high note. We’re calling for a San Antonio win.
As we sign off for the 2018 regular season, we say THANK YOU to all the readers for supporting the 2018 Six Pointer Previews! It has been very appreciated. Hopefully, we’ll see you back here next week talking about a playoff match-up against Orange County, Phoenix, or Sacramento.
San Antonio FC – 2
RGV FC – 0
SAFC “Did You Know?”
In 2008, San Antonio Manager Darren Powell guided Elon University to its first-ever NCAA Division I league title and a perfect 7-0-0 mark in conference play during the regular season.
If you started at zero and counted up, what is the first number you would get to that hasn’t been worn by a San Antonio FC player?