Match Day 20 will see San Antonio FC back on the road for their second meeting with Oklahoma City Energy this month – their final meeting of the USL regular season. We once again caught up with Tyler Vaughn from Off Pitch Podcast (@offpitchpodcast) to get his views on OKC’s 2018 season so far. Here we go into another Six Pointer Preview.
- 1 – (RB90) Long time no chat! How has the rest of the month gone for OKC Energy since these two teams had their 4th of July draw at Toyota Field? Unbeaten in eight straight. Catch us up!
(TV) Hey guys! Well, it’s been interesting, to say the least. We drew at home with Switchbacks and should have probably won that one. Then, there was this little nationally televised 6-4 win over Vegas. You might have heard about it. We’re most recently coming off a draw away to Sacramento, where a point a piece was probably a fair result. We played one of our worst halves of the season in the first 45 but completely turned it around at the break to play some of our best football in the second. Even had a few decent chances to get all three points.
- 2 – I can’t help but be impressed with the offensive turnaround of this team. They spent the first few months as one of the worst scoring offenses in all of USL. Since mid-June, they’ve scored 15 goals, including a wild one in Vegas with 6. The 15 goals in that stretch nearly match SAFC’s entire season output (21). What can you attribute this amazing turnaround to?
Yeah, it’s a definitely more fun to be on an 11-match scoring streak than to go over 600 minutes without finding the back of the net. For me, the improvement comes down to several things. For the guys that played under Jimmy, Cooke’s style of play was an adjustment. In years past, we prided ourselves on being dominate defensively, counter-attacking, and making the most out of our opportunities. Now, we tend to possess the ball more and try to break teams down.
Early in the season, we just couldn’t figure it out in the final third and the guys starting losing confidence. Then, the chances started coming, but because we hadn’t scored, the confidence wasn’t there and neither was the finishing. Eventually, the streak ended with Callum Ross’s late header against COS on May 19 and we haven’t looked back since. I guess the guys figure if Rossi can put one away then anyone can.
Since then, Alex Dixon and Jose Barril have gone on to regain their form from last year. Jaime Siaj has become increasingly confident since his debut and goal with the Jordan national team. Of course, Christian Volesky has helped tremendously as well with four goals since joining from STL. It also doesn’t hurt when you have FC Dallas loanees like Francis Atuahene and Ema Twumasi in the team. Oh! And we also just added Adam Jahn today on loan from Columbus Crew, so don’t expect the goals to stop any time soon!
- 3 – Matt Van Oekel is top 5 in the Western Conference in total saves, along with Diego Restrepo. Having two of the best keepers in the Conference on each side – are we heading for a defense-first philosophy tactically in this one, and tell us more about Van Oekel’s season.
Unfortunately, MVO suffered a season-ending injury against Colorado Springs on July 11. Fortunately, Bryan Byars has come in and done very well in the past two and a half games. Also, Cody Laurendi was just cleared to play after the knee injury he suffered last year and re-signed for the remainder of the season. So, we’re in good hand – pun intended.
I really think we’re finally in for some goals for once. At least for the home side. Our players are in good form, and we kind of have to go for it at home and make sure we get maximum points.
- 4 – Hugh Alexander Dixon is really coming on strong. He’s now the Goals, Assists, and shots leader for this team. Tell us more about him and his season, and what can we expect from him on Saturday?
In a word: everything. Alex is a threat every time he’s on the ball. He’s lightning quick, can run at defenses, whip in crosses, play excellent through balls, and obviously, he can finish. He’s scored some highlight reel goals lately, and nearly had one of the goals of the season against Sacramento, when he dribbled 60 yards and smashed one off the bar. He’s some player. You guys might want to watch out for him. Don’t tell Powell.
- 5 – Six draws in this series all-time. Surely this is going to be another draw, right? What’s your prediction for the match?
I said goals before, and I’m going to stick with it. I’ll say 3-1 to OKC.
- 6 – What’s your prediction for where OKC will finish on the table, and how will their season end?
It’s going to be a tough run-in. We have 14 matches left and only 5 are at home. And we play two of those five this week! We’re gonna have to find a way to win games on the road, but I think the guys are up for it. Also, Portland is having a rough time lately, and I don’t see that stopping. I also don’t know if Colorado Springs has the depth to hold down a spot. I think two of three between Fresno, you all, and us will get in there. I’ll go 7th for us and 8th for you. Sorry not sorry, Fresno.
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC – D D L W W, 2018 Road Record 1-4-3
OKC Energy – D D W D D, 2018 Home Record 5-2-6
San Antonio FC: 28 points, GF 21, GA 22, GD – 1, 10th in USL West
OKC Energy: 23 points, GF 22, GA 31, GD – 9, 12th in USL West
All-Time History (W-D-L)
Wednesday will mark the ninth time these two teams have met. In seven previous USL regular season matches, these two teams have drawn six times, and SAFC lost once, at Toyota Field in May 2016. OKC also defeated SAFC in the USL playoffs last year. San Antonio FC has never defeated OKC Energy in any competition. All-time, OKC has the edge. The series stands at 0-6-2.
7/4/18 @ SA 1-1 Draw
7/28/18 @ OKC
It was a special mid-week holiday affair at Toyota Field on July 4th last time these two teams got together. Jose Barril scored for OKC in the 68’. Substitute Alex Bruce equalized in the 77th minute with an absolutely spectacular shot to salvage the point for the home side as it ended 1-1. Bruce ended up with Goal of the Week honors for his terrific strike. San Antonio FC debuted their third red kits during this match.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (7-7-5) at OKC Energy (6-5-10) #OKCvSA
Taft Stadium, Saturday, July 28th
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPN+
Key to victory
Both teams come into this match off of mid-week games. For Oklahoma City, it was a 0-0 draw against Fresno, but that was enough to extend their unbeaten streak to eight games. An incredible turnaround for a team that looked destined for the bottom three for most of the opening months of the 2018 season.
For San Antonio, it was a different lineup, and it didn’t have the offensive firepower of the four goals from Saturday night. It even featured some unfortunate injury news for SAFC both before the match – Felix was injured in pre-game warm ups, leading to Roushandel taking his spot- and during the match when Elizondo went down yet again in the 20th minute, causing an early sub by Escalante. Even with all of that adversity, a pretty Murphy header off of a King cross in the second half was enough for San Antonio to earn all three points on Wednesday night with a 1-0 victory that left them level with Colorado on points. That’s a team-leading 5th assist on the season for King. Not bad for a defenseman.
Then late-on, it got even worse for Colorado as former SAFC man AJ Ajeakwa was issued a straight red card in the final minute of the match for a truly unnecessary and ugly tackle. It was a silly play that ended a long night of frustration for the former member of the silver and black. And just like that, after all the dust settled, the six points out of six so far this week for SAFC has them back in the USL Playoffs conversation. Now the question is, can they make it nine for nine and seal a perfect week?
San Antonio has been abysmal on the road, only winning one road match so far in 2018. It’s probably not going to get any easier in this matchup. San Antonio has never defeated OKC Energy. And as previously mentioned, OKC is on a long unbeaten streak, so they’re playing hot. With another quick turnaround, we’re betting the team sheet for this one will feature a lot of changes yet again and will probably look a lot more similar to last Saturday night vs Real Monarchs than it did on Wednesday night.
Speaking of the roster – there was one significant bit of roster news this week – SAFC announced that Lee Johnston has left the club in search of playing opportunities abroad. Hard to blame the kid. He just isn’t getting any opportunities here behind two starter-worthy keepers. It will be interesting to see if San Antonio goes after a third goalkeeper or if they decide to let it ride with Restrepo and Cardone, who have both seen plenty of action this past month. By the way, Cardone was magnificent in goal on Wednesday night, playing a large part in holding on to that vital clean sheet vs Colorado with some expert saves.
As for Saturday night – with 6 draws all-time in this matchup, including one earlier this year, we’re sticking on the side of history and calling this one even yet again. Although if San Antonio can pull this one off, we’ll be doubters no more. They seem right on the cusp of a season turnaround. We’d love nothing more than to see them deliver on that promise.
San Antonio FC – 1
OKC Energy – 1
SAFC “Did You Know?”
On June 10th 2017, these two teams combined for the fewest ever shots on goal in a single SAFC match with 3 shots on goal total for the match. The match ended 0-0.