Match Day 25 will see San Antonio FC back home for only the second time in August as they will face Swope Park Rangers in the second of three season meetings for 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 long time since we have seen Y’all – way back on Match Day 4. Catch us up on how Swope’s season has gone. What has stood out to you?
(TB) The Rangers were rolling along fairly well early in the year but have hit a bad streak where they have not won in their last 8 matches and have dropped out of the playoff zone. This more or less coincides with Sporting Kansas City’s struggles as well. The first team had quite a few injuries and a number of the guys that would have been getting experience with SPR were now on the bench or even playing for SKC. Kuzain, Busio, and Lindsey, three SKC homegrown players all got time in MLS and did varying levels of good. Didic and Belmar were in the 18 for SKC and not available for SPR.
For SPR they played several SKC Academy kids and have struggled to find their form. Much like the first team (SKC has won 3 straight), SPR seems to be slowly turning it around.
- 2 – Swope has given up the 6th most goals in USL West so far this season. What sticks out defensively as reasons why they have struggled this season?
Inconsistency in the lineup. The previously mentioned struggles with SKC and the subsequent impact for SPR has left the lineup in constant flux.
- 3 – Belmar gets a lot of the headlines – and rightfully so – but tell us about Hadji Barry who is second on the team in both goals and assists. What has made him so successful this season?
Barry is not as hardnosed, go-to-goal, out-run, out-muscle defenders as Belmar, although he can at times. He plays off others a little more. When Belmar is in form and in the game, Barry can take advantage of his partner and get in good positions. It does not have to be Belmar, he plays well off of Blackwood as well.
- 4 – How has the dynamic been between Swope and Sporting this season, and do you expect any unusual player movement for this match?
It is very clear, SPR exists to benefit SKC. No doubt about it. If SKC’s manager wants someone to get time, they get time. SPR will not always put out the best lineup, they will play the guys that need to get fit, stay sharp or prove they can someday advance to MLS. With SKC down to only 4 injuries at the moment I would expect a lot of the young guys and deep roster players to be down with SPR. One exception might be Didic. This weekend he was on the bench for SKC and started for SPR the next afternoon but they were both in town so that worked out.
- 5 – It’s sort of a tale of two teams for Swope. They have only one loss at home but six on the road. What makes playing away from home so tough for them and will that affect their tactics vs San Antonio?
At least part of it is the struggles already mentioned. The inconsistent lineup will cause problems for any team but will be even more exposed on the road.
6 – Three matches all-time at Toyota Field between these two teams and three draws. Will it be a fourth? What is your prediction for the match?
I hate to go against SPR but they are not out of their run of bad form just yet. I would say they either pull out a low scoring draw or suffer another loss before getting back in a winning way.
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC – W W L L L, 2018 Home Record 7-3-2
Swope Park Rangers – L L D D L, 2018 Road Record 4-4-6
San Antonio FC: 34 points, GF 28, GA 33, -5 GD, 8th in USL West
Swope Park Rangers: 34 points, 34 GF, 42 GA, -8 GD, 9th in USL West
All-Time History (W-D-L)
This will be the eighth meeting between San Antonio and Swope Park. Only RGV and OKC Energy have faced SAFC more times. Swope and San Antonio have played three times at Toyota Field. Every one of them was a draw, including their only match head to head so far in 2018. San Antonio hasn’t fared as well on the road in this series, winning once and losing three times. All-time the series is 1-3-3, with Swope having the edge by two in the win column.
4/7/14 @ SA – DRAW 1-1
8/25/18 @ SA
9/19/2018 @ SWO
Way back in early April 2018 these two teams met at Toyota Field. There were two first-half goals for each team. One of the best in the league in Kharlton Belmar got the visitors started in the 29th minute. Pecka would equalize from a Guzman assist four minutes later – his lone goal of 2018 so far – and that would end the goals for the evening. Swope dominated possession 61% to 39%.
Starting the first four matches of the year, Defender Chris Christian would make his fourth and final league appearance for SAFC in the match. Nashville’s Kris Typak also started the game for SAFC. Three matches later, he wouldn’t be on the SAFC roster anymore. Here are all the highlights:
The Matchup (W-D-L)
Swope Park Rangers (9-7-9) at San Antonio FC (9-7-8) #SAvSPR
Toyota Field, Saturday, August 25th
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPN+
Key to victory
The best thing about this most recent road trip for San Antonio is that, mercifully, it’s finally over. It was an abysmal run of games for the silver and black which saw their season-long losing streak bloom into three games and still counting. San Antonio lost to two teams for the first time ever in Seattle and Portland and then Phoenix dropped a big ol’ hammer over the collective heads of San Antonio to emphatically send SAFC back home, tail firmly between their legs. Two wins in twelve road games will tend to do that to a team.
Oh, and did we mention that San Antonio saw their MLS’ chances go up in smoke during this road trip, too? It really has been the most brutal stretch of the season.
The only saving grace for SAFC is that the teams below them just can’t seem to get on track. Three straight losses and San Antonio somehow remains in good shape to claim a playoff spot. Assuming they get back to earning points eventually, of course. What hurts is the inability to improve their position. Right now, a date with Real Monarchs, Orange County, or Phoenix looks most likely. None of those is an appealing playoff destination from SAFC’s perspective. And that’s IF they make the playoffs, which is far from certain the way they are playing right now.
San Antonio will do best to forget about the Phoenix match as quickly as possible. Nothing worked. Nothing went right. Restrepo was beaten on an embarrassing turnover way out of his area. Former SAFC player Devin Vega scored a ridiculous volley goal – his first of the season no less. And to really pour extra salt in the wound, Billy Forbes wanted in on the action and he got it. He scored too. Those two players had one combined goal ALL SEASON before Wednesday night.
It was so bad, even Phoenix going down to ten men in the second half couldn’t kick-start any discernible improvement in San Antonio’s attack. It was as lifeless as it gets. It was not a good performance by SAFC. It was not a fun night. Phoenix won the match 4-0, and the former SAFC players had the last laugh.
Fortunately for San Antonio, they’re right back in action this Saturday, and they’re back home for only the second time in the month of August. So they don’t have time to dwell on what went wrong even if they wanted to. And speaking of playoff battles, they’ll be facing the team right on their heels, and a team that has had the upper hand on San Antonio all-time. Nothing can be taken for granted at this stage as we enter the final games of the season.
Swope comes into this match on a bit of a downturn themselves. They have no wins and two losses in their previous five matches. Last weekend they put up three goals on Reno, but they also gave up three and left the match with only one point. It was also a draw the first time these two teams got together way back in April. Along with RGV, Swope is the only team that SAFC will face three times, so they’ll meet one more time in September. The six points up for grabs in these two games against Swope could be THE single difference in who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t.
A mighty important match. But aren’t they all, at this point?
It’s hard to pick San Antonio to bounce back after such a brutal defeat on Wednesday. But we’ll stick with history, and history says, when these two teams get together at Toyota Field, they draw. That’s our pick.
San Antonio FC – 1
Swope Park Rangers – 1
SAFC “Did You Know?”
In seven meetings vs Swope Park Rangers, San Antonio has only scored more than one goal, one time. They scored two on 9/17/17, a 5-2 loss