Match Day 30 will see San Antonio FC playing the second of three road matches as they head to Swope Park Rangers for the first and only time this year; their third meeting overall in 2018. Once again, we caught up with Thad (TheBackpost) from Blue Testament (@BlueTestamentKC) to get all the info on Sporting KC’s USL side. Here we go into another Six Pointer Preview.
- 1 – (RB90) It has been a month since these two teams last met – catch us up on what has stood out for Swope in that timeframe?
(TB) Swope Park has gone on a good run, winning four straight. It’s helped that they are a long homestand but perhaps even more importantly, the parent club has gotten healthy. That has allowed players like Kuzain, Busio, Didic, Lindsey, and Smith to return to the Rangers where they should be getting time.
- 2 – Amer Didic was an unlikely goal scorer in the last match between these two teams. Tell us more about his season and what can we expect out of him in this match?
Didic is a great story in that he had almost quit soccer, ended up at a small college in Kansas City and had a head coach recommend him to the Rangers for a tryout. Didic showed some promise and had a lot of growth potential. He quickly became the regular CB for SPR and even earned a contract with SKC as depth. This season may have been a little disappointing for Didic though, SKC went out and signed Emiliano Amor on loan, drafted Graham Smith, signed Matt Lewis as a homegrown and most recently La Liga veteran Andreu Fontas. Amor is gone, Lewis has barely seen the field, Smith is in the doghouse for a poor performance and Didic is still there, plugging away. He keeps getting better with more experience.
- 3 – There have been four different goalkeepers for Swope this season. Tell us more about the group as a whole and who is most likely to start in this one? It’s worth noting that Eric Dick has started in both matches against San Antonio this season.
Who will start should be a drinking game. Like so many answers I give, it all depends on who the first team wants to play. Zendejas and Dick are both backups to Tim Melia for SKC so they get games to stay sharp. Herrera and Macleod are keepers they look at for the future with Herrera having the inside track for being next in line. SO…. My bet guess is Zendejas with Dick traveling to San Jose for SKC. Zendejas had a good game with SPR last week and is probably the most important to keep fresh in case something happens to Melia.
But it could be Dick…
- 4 – Chase Minter and Felipe Hernandez are two more names that don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheets every week but contribute to the overall success of the offense. Tell us more about those players and their role and how they might attack San Antonio in this one?
Minter has not seen a ton of time lately with Busio, Kuzain and recently signed Akhmatov getting more midfield minutes. Hernandez is still a mainstay and really the glue of the SPR midfield. He always seems to be on the verge of maybe being the next SPR/SKC Academy guy to earn a first team contract but never quite gets the call. He is a hard working mid that can really play any of the 3 mid spots in an SKC system but is probably best as an 8. Minter is a really solid USL guy who does all the work but seldom sees the glory.
- 5 – San Antonio continues to struggle mightily against Swope. Only one win in eight matches and they have really struggled on the road in this series, despite getting their one series victory on the road. Last September they were thumped 5-2 in this fixture. Is this an easy Swope win?
If I had to place a bet, I would say SPR wins the game or at least pulls out a draw. The scoring has been down for SPR with Belmar up and then injured although I think he might be back this game. Either way, I doubt it is an easy win. Although SPR has been on a nice little win streak, they have all been close game score wise and the other teams had their chances.
- 6 – What’s your prediction for where Swope will finish and how will their season end?
I think Swope Park will make the playoffs again and possibly do some damage for the third straight year but I would be really surprised if they make it to the final again. Such a different team from the past and even more focus on developing academy kids make it hard to even compare to the 2016 or 2017 versions. I hope they prove me wrong and make it all the way again though.
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC – L W W W L, 2018 Road Record 4-4-7
Swope Park Rangers – W W W W L, 2018 Home Record 8-3-3
San Antonio FC: 43 points, 38 GF, 41 GA, -3 GD, 9th in USL West
Swope Park Rangers: 46 points, 43 GF, 48 GA, -5 GD, 6th in USL West
All-Time History (W-D-L)
This will be the ninth meeting between San Antonio and Swope Park in USL regular season play. Only RGV and OKC Energy have faced SAFC as many times in USL play. San Antonio has played four times at Swope. San Antonio hasn’t fared very well on the road in this series, winning once and losing three times. All-time the series is 1-3-4, with Swope holding a commanding point margin, 15 – 6.
4/7/14 @ SA – DRAW 1-1
8/25/18 @ SA – Swope 2, SA 1
9/19/2018 @ SWO –
Just shy of a month ago at Toyota Field Swope Park gave San Antonio their fourth straight loss in a 2-1 win over SAFC. Cardone started in goal and two first-half goals by Barry and Didic were enough to do in the silver and black. King would pull back a goal in the second half but despite a much better-looking San Antonio team throughout the final 45 minutes, they couldn’t find the equalizer. Recent SAFC sensation Lance Laing made his San Antonio debut in the match. Here are all the highlights:
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (12-7-10) at Swope Park Rangers (13-7-10) #SAvSPR
Children’s Mercy Park, Wednesday, September 19th
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPN+
Key to victory
Unpredictable. If there was one word to describe the 2018 San Antonio FC season, that word is unpredictable. The team is struggling? No problem. They’ll turn around and beat the top teams in USL. Twice. Finally getting on a roll winning 4 straight? Not so fast. They’ll turn around and lose the next four. On another hot streak and playing the worst team in USL? A sure fire win, right? No-huh. They’ll go lay a gigantic egg at a critical stage in their season.
In what has to be the most maddening result of the season, it was Tulsa 2, San Antonio 1 on Saturday night in Oklahoma that may not have put the final nail in San Antonio’s playoff hopes, but it definitely put them on life support. Someone might want to check to see if one of those crash carts is available in the hallway.
Somehow San Antonio managed to finish the season series with Tulsa gaining only 1 point out of 6 against the worst team in USL West. Contrast that with three wins in four games against the top two teams (Phoenix, Real Monarchs) and it’s easy to understand why San Antonio is a frustrating team to watch in 2018.
It’s interesting to see how the lineup has shifted throughout the season. Once promising Alex Bruce is on the outs. Four straight matches out of the 18 for him, and only one start in the last ten SAFC matches. Young Ethan Bryant, one start in the last seven matches. Cuomo and Escalante and Guadarrama don’t appear to be in the current plans. Announced captain of 2018 Ryan Roushandel, only one appearance in the last ten. Felix only one start in eight matches since returning from injury. There has definitely been a shift towards the newer group of faces.
The one exception was the return of Cesar Elizondo to the lineup, who brought with him some good news. He had missed nine straight matches due to injury – 14 on the season – and not only did he return to the starting lineup, but he scored SAFC’s only goal. It was his second goal of the year and his first since Mid-June against Sacramento. Guzman did not score in the match, seeing his three-game scoring streak come to an end, but he did tally an assist on Elizondo’s goal. That was Guzman’s first assist since April against Swope, and it’s now four straight matches with a goal or an assist for Guzman, who remains a big key to SAFC’s offensive fortunes, even when he isn’t scoring.
And that brings us to Swope – the first of two critical matches in a four-day span this week that will probably go a very long way in determining SAFC’s fate in 2018. That’s b/c both Swope and Saturday’s opponent St Louis, are both currently three points ahead of SAFC in the standings. It’s basically four teams battling for the final three playoff spots at this stage. The other team in the mix is Reno, who also starts this week ahead of San Antonio in the standings. San Antonio can not afford to leave points on the table at this stage of the season if they want to be in the playoffs. Especially against teams ahead of them.
It won’t be easy. San Antonio only has four road wins out of fifteen road matches for the season. Swope has won 4 of 5. Swope has eight home wins this year. And probably most importantly – San Antonio only has one win in eight matches against Swope all time. History is not on their side. If there’s a silver lining, the one win came at Swope in 2017. On the other hand, the last time SAFC played there they were thumped 5-2 in a forgettable match. Which SAFC team is going to show up on Wednesday? Before San Antonio can think about St Louis, they must get past Swope.
One last interesting observation about this matchup on Wednesday night – both of these teams have a negative goal differential on the season. That’s not typical of teams in a playoff hunt, but it has been a strange one in USL in 2018, to be sure.
It doesn’t feel good. Swope has the history including a win and a draw at Toyota Field already this year. Swope is fighting for their playoff spot just as much as San Antonio and you can bet the two time defending Western Champs won’t go down easily. If SAFC can’t get the job done against Tulsa, it’s hard to pick a win over Swope. We’re calling Wednesday for the home team. Which naturally means SAFC will certainly win. Good Ol’ unpredictable San Antonio FC.
San Antonio FC – 1
Swope Park Rangers – 2
SAFC “Did You Know?”
SAFC Defender Cyprian Hedrick was originally drafted by Sporting Kansas City (MLS) in the second round (30th overall) of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.