Match Day 29 will see San Antonio FC back on the road for the start of yet another three-match road trip – their final road trip of the 2018 USL Regular Season. We once again caught up with Zach Easdon (@easdonz) from the Tulsa Soccer Show (@tulsasoccershow) to catch up with our neighbors to the north. Here we go into another edition of the Six Pointer Preview.
- 1 – It has been a long time since these two teams got together – way back in May. Catch us up on Tulsa’s season. What has stood out?
(ZE) It has been a season deserving of the last place for Tulsa. With only 17 points after September 5th’s game against Sounders FC II, Tulsa has had few positives to hang our hats on. One of the bright spots has been the hiring of head coach Michael Nsien. After an abysmal road trip out west that saw the Roughnecks lose by a total of 1 to 9 against Phoenix, and Orange County Tulsa parted ways with former head coach David Vaudreuil and promoted Nsien to the head job. Nsien grew up in Tulsa and is well known within the soccer community. Nsien is the Director of Coaching for the Tulsa Soccer Club (the largest and most successful youth club in Tulsa) which has allowed for a strong connection with the youth teams in town and the Roughnecks.
- 2 – Obviously, things have not gone as planned for Tulsa this season, being the last place team. What players are good candidates to build upon going forward?
The Roughnecks will have a lot of work both on the field and off during the offseason. There are still a lot of unknowns for Tulsa fans but the hope is to see what Nsien can do with complete control to build the team he wants. One of the current players we can look at to see what Nsien would bring is forward D.J. Dean a 19-year-old local product out of the youth club Nsien is director of. D.J. has shown a lot of potential under Nsien and fans are excited to see a local kid shine for the Roughnecks.
- 3 – One standout player has been Joaquin Rivas who has ten goals – two more than anyone on SAFC. He also scored at Toyota Field in May. Tell us more about him and what makes him so successful?
In his second year, Joaquin Rivas has really found his stride. Joaquin is a workhorse player who will cover a lot of ground during the game. Look for him to use this to make runs down the right side and cut in on utilizing his strong left foot. Recently it was announced that Joaquin has been called into the El Salvador National Team. Joaquin will join his fellow countrymen in a friendly vs Brazil on September 11 in Washington DC. Unfortunately for Tulsa, this means that the Roughnecks could be without Joaquin when we play San Antonio on the 15th.
- 4 – Paris Gee has had a nice season as well, leading the team in assists with 6. How does Tulsa’s style suit his skill set?
Paris Gee is fast and likes to run with the ball at his feet. It is not often that Tulsa controls the match, making counter attacks important and allow Gee’s skills to shine. Gee’s passing accuracy while on the move is phenomenal and when Gee can find Joaquin Rivas in the box, something good almost always happens.
- 5 – Still no wins for Tulsa in this series in USL play after six regular season matches. What’s your prediction for the match?
Yes, Tulsa hasn’t had great luck vs San Antonio other than the magical win in the Open Cup last year, but I am feeling a little optimistic about this game at home for the Roughnecks. For me, the player to watch will be Jesus Ferreira the 17-year-old wunderkind on loan from FC Dallas. Jesus just captured the first hat trick in the Roughnecks history against Seattle. I think I am going to say Tulsa squeaks out a 2-1 victory.
- 6 – What’s your prediction for where Tulsa will finish on the table, and what is their biggest offseason need for 2019?
Right now it’s all about not finishing in last for Tulsa. It’s time to play the young kids like D.J. Dean and Jesus Ferreira and really see what the future has in store. This offseason is going to be a big one for the Roughnecks, who are in need of a major overhaul. As of right now, 2 of the 4 years this team has been around, the Roughnecks will finish dead last in our conference and the crowds continue to get smaller and smaller. But there appears to be hope for Tulsa fans as rumors of new investment continues to make its way around town and the possibility of a soccer-specific stadium continues to grow.
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC – L L W W W, 2018 Road Record 4-4-6
Tulsa Roughnecks – W L L L D, 2018 Home Record 2-5-5
San Antonio FC – 43 points, 37 GF, 39 GA, -2 GD, 7th in USL West
Tulsa Roughnecks – 17 points, 30 GF, 58 GA, -28 GD, 17th in USL West
All-Time History (W-D-L)
This will be the ninth overall meeting between these two teams. San Antonio FC has never lost to Tulsa in six all-time meetings in USL regular season play. The draw in May was the first in the series. San Antonio holds the all-time advantage by a wide margin, 6-1-1. That includes a Playoff win for SAFC and an Open Cup win for Tulsa.
5/19/18 @ SA – DRAW 1-1
9/15/18 @ TUL
Gordon scored very early, assisted by Cochrane, but San Antonio couldn’t hold the advantage. Joaquin Rivas equalized early in the second half and the match would end in a 1-1 draw. San Antonio dominated possession but couldn’t come away with the home victory. You can catch all the highlights right here:
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (12-7-9) at Tulsa Roughnecks (2-11-13) #TULvSA
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Kickoff 7:00 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPN+
Key to victory
Happy times are here again for San Antonio FC as they continue their streaky play in the second half of the 2018 season. With a thrilling 3-2 victory over Phoenix, San Antonio ended Rising’s four-match win streak, and they emphatically assured their fans that they would not be embarrassed for a second time by their former players. In fact, that blowout loss in the desert last month is the aberration in the series, as San Antonio now has 3 wins and 1 loss against Phoenix since they rebranded as Rising FC.
Streaky indeed. That makes 4 straight wins, followed by 4 straight losses, followed by 3 straight wins for SAFC in the back half of this 2018 season. And hopefully still counting on this latest win streak. What a second half of the season it has been.
We said it last week and we’ll say it again. Guzman scores, San Antonio wins. It might be as simple as that for SAFC. San Antonio is now 7-0-1 when Guzman scores a goal in 2018. Guzman scored in his third straight match for the second time this season. Guzman has seven goals in his last ten appearances, overall. With his latest goal, Guzman became the all-time goal scoring leader for San Antonio FC in their young history. That’s mighty impressive for a player who played his first SAFC game just over a year ago (9/2/17 vs Real Monarchs), and for one who also missed 6 games to injury this year. That’s a healthy goal scoring rate.
And how about Lance Laing? Three straight starts. Three straight matches with a goal and an assist. That has never been done by a San Antonio FC player before. Laing is already tied for third on the team in goals and tied for second on the team in Assists. He’s played four games. What a savvy midseason move by Powell & co to bring him on via loan. They have to be commended for bringing in such a difference maker for this team at a stage of the season where they absolutely needed a presence like his. Guzman and Laing continue to be MVPs 1 and 2 for SAFC this season.
And let’s not forget Cyprian Hedrick. Hedrick got the scoring going with a powerful header, his first ever professional goal. That’s hard to believe for someone with such an impressive professional career, even for a defender. Hedrick has been another big key for SAFC this season. It’s puzzling to recall that he didn’t make his USL debut in 2018 until mid-June, sitting for the first twelve games. For many of those, he wasn’t even in the eighteen and fans had to wonder if his SAFC playing days were over. But he has been rock solid ever since earning his way back into the rotation on June 16th against Sacramento. He should be commended for staying ready and delivering in a big way when his opportunity came up.
And maybe another MVP is Matt Cardone. He hasn’t been flashy during this recent four match run filling in for an injured Diego Restrepo, but he hasn’t performed poorly, either. While he may not have a single clean sheet in this stretch of games, what he does have is a 3-0-1 record. He’s more than held his own at a critical time of the season, and against some of USL’s best teams, too.
Speaking of USL‘s best, that makes three wins in four games for SAFC against the top two teams in USL West, Real Monarchs & Phoenix Rising. San Antonio has proven they can hang with the best USL West has to offer in 2018. That should give this team confidence that they can beat anyone at any time. All they have to do is secure their spot in the dance, and anything is possible after that. We can’t imagine any of the top teams would be happy to see San Antonio pop up as a first round playoff opponent the way they are playing right now.
The win leaped San Antonio into 7th place. And there will be two VERY important matches for SAFC in short order. Swope is three points ahead of San Antonio, although SAFC has one game in hand. St Louis is level on points, but SAFC also has a game in hand on them. And San Antonio will play them both on the road in a span of 4 days in two weeks’ time. It’s no exaggeration to say that four day stretch might be THE most important four day stretch of San Antonio’s 2018 season. But first, they must deal with Tulsa.
Even with San Antonio’s shaky start to 2018, the 1-1 draw against the Roughnecks in May at Toyota Field was a disappointing result. Even then it was clearly apparent that Tulsa wasn’t a great team, and that has proven true as the season has played out. Tulsa is having a rough year. They only have two wins. They have an abysmal negative 28 goal differential. They’ve lost three of their last four. They’ve already been eliminated from post season contention. San Antonio simply can not afford to stumble in this game. Anything less than three points could be detrimental to their playoff chances.
San Antonio is playing too hot to let this opportunity go to waste. We think San Antonio will cruise to victory, setting up a couple of must-see matches with major playoff implications against Swope and St Louis. If there’s any such thing as an easy victory in this league, this is the week.
San Antonio FC – 2
Tulsa Roughnecks – 0
SAFC “Did you Know?”
Former SAFC Midfielder Carlos Alvarez had three assists against Tulsa on 9/17/16 – the most for any single player in one game in this series.