San Antonio FC will officially kick off their fifth season of existence tonight when they host the defending USL champions Real Monarchs SLC at 7:30 p.m. at Toyota Field. This was no ordinary offseason for the local soccer club, who went through several changes from a new head coach to a retooled roster.
After missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, the club parted ways with its only coach in franchise history, Darren Powell, but in his place would be Alen Marcina. Right off the bat, Marcina spoke about a new culture for the club and a new identity that his times have had.
“With our core values, we will improve our commitment to creating a gold standard environment with a defined vision, playing style and integration philosophy,” Marcina told the media in December. “I’m excited to get underway.”
Marcina and the coaching staff got to work building a roster, bringing back just seven players from a year ago. The core of Eby Ackon, Matthew Cardone, Joshua Yaro, Cristian Parano, Jose Gallegos, Leo Torres, and Kai Greene all will join a new group of players that are looking to start off the season on the right track.
“We take it all game-by-game,” Marcina said. “It’s a 34-game season. Our focus is on Saturday against the Monarchs and nothing past that. It’s the reigning champions so we have to respect that and at the same time impose our identity in the game.”
Marcina knows a thing or two about winning matches, including a championship in 2014 with the NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions. He owns an overall record of 48-35-21 record as a head coach. That includes an unbeaten 13-0-1 record with Des Moines Menace in 2018.
SAFC lost both its top scorers in Ever Guzman and Frank Lopez in the offseason and have a new set of fresh faces ready to put the ball into the back of the net for San Antonio. Defensively, the team has a brand new backline, anchored by Greene. One of those new faces is forward Luis Solignac, who is one of the most experienced players in club history. Solignac has played with MLS clubs Chicago Fire and Colorado Rapids, now he looks forward to a new challenge with SAFC in 2020.
“Every player plays for this,” he said. “Preseason is something we have to go through to get to this point, so we are very excited. We had a great preseason and we are focused on opening up in front of our fans.”
The friendly confines of Toyota Field has been a safe haven for SAFC the past four seasons, owning a 34-10-21 record all-time. That includes a 2-0-1 record at home against this weekend’s opponent, the Monarchs.
Marcina knows his club has been put through their paces in the preseason and now it is time to show the fans and everyone just how ready the club is. What a better test than the defending champs in your house in front of a sellout crowd?
“We are excited about the works that have been put in as a collective,” Marcina said. “Players have done a fantastic job buying into the culture and creating a team identity. I think we’ve created a strong foundation moving forward, and we are excited to take on the reigning champions this Saturday.”