Match Day 31 will see San Antonio FC wrap up a three-game road trip in Saint Louis where the stakes will be very huge for both teams. We caught up with Matt Bird (@LouliganBird) from the “This is Silly” Podcast (@ThisIsSillyPod) to get all the answers about SAFC’s next opponent, Saint Louis FC. Here we go into another edition of the Six-Pointer Preview.
- 1 – (RB90) This is the longest stretch between meetings that San Antonio FC has had all season long. These two teams haven’t played since Match Day 2, way back in March! And San Antonio hasn’t played in Saint Louis since 2016. It’s basically been all of 2018 since we last talked – how has St Louis’ season gone, and what has stood out?
(MB) The season can basically be split into 2 sections, injured and healthy. For some reason, we were absolutely slammed in May and June for injuries. We lost Wal Fall, Corey Hertzog, Austin Martz, Tony Walls, and Jonathan Barden out all at once. Whenever you lose half your projected starters it is going to get rough and add into it a hectic open cup schedule at that time we really struggled.
Since July we’ve gotten a lot better with the players returning, only Barden is still out and our recent form shows.
- 2 – Kyle Greig scored in the second minute against SAFC back in March and he has had a terrific season, leading STL with 13 goals. Tell us more about him and what will SAFC have to do to keep him in check?
2 years ago Kyle lit up the western conference when Vancouver Whitecaps 2 were the best team in the league for a while. He followed Alan Koch to FC Cincinnati last season and I was absolutely delighted when we picked him up late into preseason. We had trouble scoring in the first few months of the year and he bailed us out more than once. He is just a thoroughbred goal scorer at the top of his game right now.
- 3 – Goalkeeping has been split pretty evenly for STL with Jake Fenlason getting 15 appearances and Tomas Gomez with 16. Do you favor one over the other, and who is most likely to start against SAFC?
I would say Ant [Pulis] has settled on Tomas Gomez for the run in, that said if he picked Fenalson to start I would be unfazed as he has stepped up big time when needed. Tomas with 2 gold gloves in the league was brought in to be number 1 but his Dad has been diagnosed with cancer so Jake has been playing more as Tomas deals with that I think. Either way you’ll be facing a decent keeper.
- 4 – These two teams are so similar statistically almost entirely across the board, and on the table in a playoff chase. How can STL gain the edge tactically in this matchup?
Starting fast. We’ve scored a lot of goals within first ten minutes of games recently. We’re also a defensive team that can soak up possession then hit on the counter. Martz and Dacres are lightning fast on wings and Fall can spray a creative pass anywhere he likes it seems.
- 5 – It was a San Antonio win back at Toyota Field in March – a lot on the line in this one – what is your prediction for the match?
We’ve won 5 straight at home so I would obviously like to think it can continue. SA is a good team I didn’t expect you to beat Pheonix and Monarchs so I expect a tough game. Luckily for us, you guys playing Swope 3 days prior can tire you out a bit and we can have an edge. I’ll take a hard-fought 3-2 win. (I’ll honestly take any win)
- 6 – What’s your prediction for where St Louis will finish on the table and how will their season end?
7th or 8th I’ll be really happy with. I think if we were healthier in May and June we could be looking for a home playoff game but due to injuries and a lack of clinical finishing, we have to be happy with just the playoffs.
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC – W W W L L, 2018 Road Record 4-7-5
St Louis FC – D L W D W, 2018 Home Record 8-4-2
San Antonio FC: 43 points, 38 GF, 43 GA, -5 GD, 9th in USL West
St Louis FC: 46 points, 41 GF, 36 GA, +5 GD, 7th in USL West
All-Time History (W-D-L)
This is only the 4th meeting all-time between the two clubs as Saint Louis spent the 2017 season in the Eastern Conference. This is San Antonio’s first visit to Saint Louis since 8/27/2016; over two calendar years in between visits. San Antonio won that one and only match in St Louis 2-0. All time, San Antonio leads the series 2-0-1.
3/24/18 @ SA – SA 2 , STL 1
9/22/2018 @ STL
In the 2018 home opener for SAFC, Mikey Lopez and Kris Tyrpak made sure the home team celebrated with all three points. Kyle Greig scored for STL in the second minute. Not the ideal start the home fans were looking for. But it was a Lopez goal in the first half assisted by Tyrpak and then a Tyrpak goal assisted by Lopez in the second half that brought the win home for San Antonio. Catch all the highlights right here.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (12-7-11) at Saint Louis FC (12-10-8) #STLvSA
Toyota Stadium, Saturday, September 22nd
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPN+
Key to victory
It was an all too familiar result for SAFC against Swope Park on Wednesday night as the home side cruised to a 2-0 victory. With the win, Swope goes six points clear of San Antonio in the playoff chase with only four matches remaining for San Antonio. It will be very difficult for San Antonio to catch the Rangers, now.
Swope did it in historic fashion as Hadji Barry scored for a USL record seventh straight match. San Antonio had their chances, especially early on, but no one could connect on target and in the end, it was San Antonio going scoreless for the eighth time this season. Swope is the first team to defeat San Antonio five times.
With Reno holding a two-point lead and a two-game advantage on SAFC, it seems SAFC’s last shot at making the playoffs will be to pass St Louis. Coming into Saturday’s clash, St Louis holds a three-point advantage on San Antonio. The teams are level on games played. No under-stating it, this match will go a very long way towards keeping their playoff hopes alive. Or not. Going six points down with three games to go would be a near impossible task for any team to overcome. San Antonio needs a win.
So what to do with this lineup? St Louis is well rested, while San Antonio had the tough road loss in midweek against Swope. Typically throughout the season, we’ve seen Powell make several changes between mid-week and weekend games. SAFC went with a strong lineup against Swope. Can’t blame him for doing so, but now it’s a pickle for what has become the most vital match of the season. Does he keep most of his top guys in the eleven and risk tired legs or does he shuffle things up and hope some second wave players can pull through in the clutch? It will be interesting to see how Powell handles these high stakes. And the fate of the season could ride on his choices.
St Louis has won five straight at home and is riding a seven-match unbeaten streak at home. They have only been beaten at home twice all season. San Antonio has only won for of sixteen on the road, and they’ve lost the first two matches on this road trip. This will be the tallest of challenges for San Antonio FC.
San Antonio has now lost six of their last nine overall and it feels like the season is spiraling away from them. They’ve been outscored four to one on this road trip so far, and it’s hard to envision them getting back on track with so much on the line for both teams. We’re picking St Louis to put one of the final nails in SAFC’s season on Saturday night.
San Antonio FC – 0
St Louis FC – 2
SAFC “Did You Know?”
San Antonio FC Defender Stephen McCarthy has represented the USA at both the U-20 and U-18 levels, including at the 2007 Pan American Games.