Home Red Black 90 Match Day Six Pointer Preview: U.S. Open Cup: San Antonio FC vs Midland-Odessa

Six Pointer Preview: U.S. Open Cup: San Antonio FC vs Midland-Odessa

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Welcome to a special Open Cup edition of the Six Pointer Preview. Call it the Six Pointer-Lite edition, if you will. We touched base with Eric Blum (EricBlumOA) of the Odessa American (@OdessaAmerican) to get some knowledge on SAFC’s first Open Cup opponent of 2018.

1 – (RB 90) Let’s start with last week’s Open Cup Match for the Sockers. It was a dominant 3-0 win at home against Lakeland Tropics with goals from Peter Dominguez, Jhonatan Velasquez, and a PK goal from Xavi Lao. What stood out for you in the match and what should SAFC fans be looking for out of the Sockers in general?

(EB) What stood out to me is how quickly the Sockers found cohesion. The back line was solid, the midfield controlled possession and forwards put the Tropics under a lot of pressure. SAFC should obviously be a huge step up in quality, but for one game after limited practices together, the win over the Tropics was basically as good as it could’ve gone. Playing in West Texas could play a role in this match with the heat and heavy winds. That doesn’t seem like much until you step on that turf. It can be a lot at times.


2 – This team has a pretty impressive recent history, going to the National Semis in 2016 in USL PDL and finishing as the National Runner-Up in NPSL last season, taking out, among others, maybe the best known lower division soccer club in the nation in Detroit City FC along the way. Their Lone Star Conference season begins in between these Open Cup matches – can they take it all the way this season, and how tough is it for them to start with three matches in one week?

From talking with club officials, this may be the most talented team in Sockers FC history. So many things have to go right for a deep run in the NPSL however, so it’s way too early to tell if this year’s team is championship material. The 2016 and 2017 teams both had an indescribable swagger that this team is far from having after only known each other for a short amount of time. This team can get there, but to pencil it in right now would be foolish.

I don’t think three matches in a week right now is that tough. Everyone’s healthy and the more game time Sockers FC get, the more likely a deep run in the NPSL is.

  • 3 – There’s a lot of roster turnover in NPSL and the season has just begun, but what players do you anticipate being stand out guys for the Sockers? Finally, how do you think they’ll tactically approach the San Antonio match and give us your best prediction for Wednesday night.

First I’d say, Nathan Regis. He’s a two-time Division II National Player of the Year and although he didn’t score Wednesday, his presence made a difference as the Tropics’ defense definitely had to keep one eye on him at all times. I’d also say, Xavi Lao. He had a goal and an assist against the Tropics and looks to have a ton of skill. There are a few other guys with professional experience as well.

Tactically, anyone’s guess is as good as mine. They used a 4-3-2-1 variation against Lakeland but could adjust and do something new, or surprise us all with something I haven’t seen.

There’s always an amateur team that makes a deep run in the U.S. Open Cup. Last year it was Christos FC. I still remember a few years ago when the Eric Wynalda-led Cal FC beat the Portland Timbers on their home turf. The Sockers could be that team, as they’re rich with standouts, but there’s a steep challenge in playing a professional team. SAFC no doubt enters as the favorite, but I think it will be close either way.

About Midland-Odessa Sockers
Based in Midland Texas, the Midland-Odessa Sockers were founded in 2008 and they currently play in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the fourth tier of American soccer. They are in the Lone Star Conference of the South Region.

The team plays home matches at Grande Communications Stadium, which is also home to Robert E Lee and Midland high school football. Plus it is also home to two minor league football teams as well. The venue has a seating capacity of 18,000.

Two of the team’s co-owners also own the AA baseball team the Midland Rockhounds, which some SAFC fans might recognize from San Antonio Missions games.

The Sockers were the NPSL National Runners-Up last year losing in the final 5-0 to eventual Champions Elm City Express from New Haven, Connecticut.

SAFC in the Open Cup
San Antonio FC will be playing their 6th Open Cup match this Wednesday night. The team is 3-2 all-time in Open Cup matches and will be playing their fifth consecutive road match in the tournament. San Antonio FC is 2-0 against NPSL teams in the Open Cup, defeating SA Corinthians and Houston Dutch Lions. This will be the first-ever meeting between San Antonio FC and Midland-Odessa.

The Third Round of the US Open Cup will take place on May 23, 2018.

2016
5/18/2016 vs San Antonio Corinthians W 3-1
6/1/2016 @ Des Moines Menace W 2-1
6/15/2016 @ Houston Dynamo L 4-0

2017
5/17/2017 @ Houston Dutch Lions W 2-1
5/31/2017 @ Tulsa Roughnecks L 0-0 (7-6)

The Matchup – US Open Cup Second Round
San Antonio FC (USL) at Midland-Odessa Sockers (NPSL)
Grande Communications Stadium, Wednesday, May 16th
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ussoccer.com

Key to victory

What a surprise – San Antonio FC has landed on the road for the Open Cup once again. It’s a remarkable streak of results that haven’t played in their favor as we will now pass two full calendar years in between home Open Cup matches for SAFC. Somewhere, Toyota Field is crying out in disbelief.

Last time we saw SAFC in this tournament they were losing a heartbreaking set of deep PK’s to USL rival Tulsa Roughnecks after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer, ultimately falling 7-6 in PK’s in a grueling defeat. But that was then, and this is now.

If you’re thinking Midland-Odessa will just be a pushover squad, think again. Last year’s team made an impressive run all the way to the NPSL Final, and more recently, they made quick work of the Lakeland Tropics in the opening round of the 2018 Open Cup, easily winning 3-0. San Antonio will clearly be the better team on paper, but they shouldn’t take this opponent lightly if they want to continue their streak of opening match wins in Open Cup play.

The biggest question for SAFC will be who is going to play? It wouldn’t be unusual to see some of the lesser seen players get on the field for this one. Might we finally see some of the players not getting USL time at the moment? Matt Cardone, Lee Johnston, Cyprian Hedrick, Stephen McCarthy, Maxi Rodriguez, Gianluca Cuomo – all players that we’d love to see get on the field, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of them make Open Cup appearances. And will Alex Bruce continue to see time? Perhaps newcomer Kyle Murphy might get a start? And maybe the biggest question of all – might we finally see an SAFC debut for SAFC Pro Academy standout Ethan Bryant? Now that would be something.

No matter who ends up playing, it’s pretty simple in tournament play. Survive and advance. Oh yes, survive and advance. No doubt SAFC has their sights set on another run towards an MLS opponent, and beyond. A dream run like Cincinnati FC in 2017? Winning it all and earning your spot in CONCACAF Champions League? It’s all possible for San Antonio FC. And it starts by winning Wednesday night.

For our take, it won’t be an easy one, but San Antonio gets it done.

Prediction
San Antonio FC – 2
Midland-Odessa – 1

SAFC “Did You Know?”
SAFC Goal Keeper Lee Johnston made his club debut on 5/17/2017 in SAFC’s third-round U.S. Open Cup match at Houston Dutch Lions, a 2-1 victory for San Antonio.

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Stephen Michael 26, is a journalist, social media coordinator, host, and entertainment reporter. Michael graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and earned a Master's Degree in Digital Media in 2020 from the University of the Incarnate Word. He has worked covering the San Antonio Rampage, Stars, and San Antonio Futbol Club. He was the host of the Project Spurs Roundtable on NBC affiliate News 4 San Antonio from 2015-17.

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