San Antonio F.C. vs. Oakland Roots – Match Preview (June 18, 2022)

After a disappointing loss to New Mexico, the Roots hit the road for their first away game outside Northern California since May 14. This game is being played across the country, and so will be at 6:00p.m. Pacific, and will be available on ESPN+, KTVU Plus.

The ska/punk bands from San Antonio I could identify are not on Spotify, except for one, and that one doesn’t have anything I can embed from youtube. So if you’re committed to this bit with me, check out “Before Darker Days” by Captain Bringdown. That counts as checking the “ska” box, for luck purposes, but here’s a different great artist from San Antonio:

(I realize he is singing about a number of cities that are not San Antonio)

(yes this is the Narc Anon guy from the Wire)

(in theory Shaq counts as a musical artist from San Antonio).

The Club

San Antonio FC was established in January 2016 with an eye towards ultimately obtaining an MLS expansion side. SAFC bought out Toyota Field, a soccer-specific stadium that had been built for the San Antonio Scorpions, an NASL team owned by a local land developer (and therefore far more appropriate for the USL than the current ownership). SAFC is a project of Spurs Sports & Entertainment, a company that “owns and operates several sporting franchises” but that really just means SAFC, the Spurs, and the Spurs’ G League team. They previously owed a WNBA team and a non-NHL hockey team.

Toyota Field seats 8,296 for SAFC matches, which is pretty dope, and they average 5,837 fans per game. I cannot say I have watched their games, so I can’t say whether that number looks realistic from crowd shots. There is definitely some numbers-juicing in USL attendance reporting.

I couldn’t find the press release itself, but this San Antonio Current article from its debut says:

The club’s logo features a banner of the city’s name above a spur (reminiscent of another local sports team you may have heard of) and five diagonal bands fading from white to grey to red. The five stripes are meant to symbolize the five branches of the armed forces — an homage to San Antonio’s “Military City U.S.A” nickname.

https://www.sacurrent.com/news/say-hello-to-san-antonio-fc-fans-react-to-new-soccer-teams-name-logo-2504590

So embarrassing for them that there’s now a sixth branch of the armed forces. The Current further reports that at the unveiling of the crest, the head coach said there were open tryouts and asked “Does anyone play center forward?” Man, I’m familiar with that feeling.

San Antonio’s Form

DateOpponentVenueResultGFGA
3/12Detroit CityHomeW10
3/19LA Galaxy IIAwayW21
3/27RGV TorosAwayW21
4/02Phoenix RisingHomeL02
4/09Orange CountyAwayW10
4/16El Paso LocomotiveHomeW10
4/23New Mexico UnitedAwayW10
4/30Monterey BayHomeW60
5/07Phoenix RisingAwayL03
5/14Miami FCAwayW20
5/28RGV TorosAwayW32
6/04SacAwayL01
6/11Monterey BayAwayW32

San Antonio have played five straight road games, and tripled their loss total over that period but, uh, three losses is still pretty good through more than 1/3 of the season.

San Antonio are a good team, and a good sign of that is beating a rival at home 3-2. San Antonio’s goals were scrappy poaching in the box, but they took advantage of those opportunities. We talked about the red card that Erik Pimentel picked up in this game before the Roots ended up facing him a couple weeks back. None of us have any idea what the violent conduct suspension rules are.

The only goal of the game came off of a pretty good, tricky corner kick routine, that set Douglas Martinez up for an emphatic header. The highlights would have you believe that Sac had all the meaningful chances in this one.

This game had everything. The home team struck on a quick free kick in the 18th that some forward took most of the length of SAFC’s half under pressure before beating the keeper to the far post. SAFC then equalized on a hilarious own goal where Monterey Bay’s keeper could only tap the ball away while fully outstretched on the ground, but he tapped it into the feet of his own defender who couldn’t help but trundle it in over the line. SAFC went ahead late in the first half with a great chip from Justin Dhillon, which Ricky Lopez-Espin says “you can’t teach,” which seems exactly wrong. This is already great stuff, but this game entered a higher tier of quality when MBFC equalized on yet another own goal. It’s honestly a little disappointing that SAFC ended up winning on a great bit of interplay in the 82nd minute.

You would want to see a sign of hope that San Antonio limply fell to Sacramento, and then only narrowly beat one of the least reliable teams in the league, but I suspect that has more to do with the five-game road trip than with any decline of SAFC.

Roots’ Form

DateOpponentVenueResultGFGA
3/12RGV TorosAwayL01
3/19MemphisAwayL12
3/26Monterey Bay Union Football Club of Seaside, CaliforniaHomeL23
3/30New Mexico UnitedAwayD22
4/02Tampa Bay RowdiesHomeD00
4/13January 6 Apologists SCHomeD22
4/16Horsegirl UnitedHomeW41
4/23Lokomotiv ProkhodAwayD11
4/30Colorado Springs Troop AppreciatorsHomeL03
5/7Orb CountyAwayD22
5/14AFC Pure Uncut Nevada ChaosAwayD11
5/21Galaxia de Carson, TwoHomeW10
5/28Central Valley RepublicHomeD11
6/1Orb CountyHomeW32
6/4Monterey Bay Union Football Club of Seaside, CaliforniaAwayW20
6/11RGV TorosHomeD22
6/15New Mexico UnitedHomeL12

I did not love this.

The first 15 minutes or so New Mexico dominated, and then Rito scored a tremendous goal and the Roots completely took over. Like usual when the Roots take over before the 80th minute, it came to basically nothing. The Roots really should have doubled their lead right at the 51st minute mark, but in tight quarters Formella and Karlsson could not quite connect in a way that allowed Karlsson the shot he wanted. Neco Brett scored in the 58th, with New Mexico just completely unlocking the Roots’ defense on a breakaway. Nine minutes later, New Mexico went up on a basically free header from 10 yards out, with Fissore, Klimenta, and Diaz all standing around (I think it was Klimenta’s man, and he had gone towards the goal line in anticipation of a shot from somewhere else). As a side note, Chris Wehan is going on the player hate list. I came into this season sorta liking New Mexico, but that has fallen apart. It aggravated me last season that we played against Wehan on two different teams, even though that’s not really his fault, and ultimately we played against the rest of OCSC more. Maybe it’s the hair. The Roots finally got their own off-ball uncalled red card when Diaz almost punched Jerome Kiesewetter, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

Players to Watch

A new team!

Mitchell Taintor #3 – If you think “Mitch Taintor” is not a funny name, you might need to find a different second-division regional sports fan blog. Uncle T-bag is in his fourth season at San Antonio, after two seasons at Sac following a couple of years at the Toronto FC USL side. He apparently got exactly 1 MLS call-up. Taintor went to Rutgers, which is the end of that joke. He is the highest rated player for SAFC on Fotmob, which might mean something, but he has four goals and an assist from the centerback position (only one a penalty), which definitely means something.

PC #6 – 28-year-old Brazilian midfielder Victor Pagliari Giro (“PC”) came up through the Corinthians youth academy and played for Ft. Lauderdale and pre-USL Tampa Bay Rowdies, before getting three years in MLS with Orlando City and Vancouver. He is now in his third season with San Antonio, who he captains most matches. PC plays as a holding central midfielder, favoring the left side, and has already matched his career-high for assists this season with three.

Justin Dhillon #11 – Dhillon leads SAFC with five goals, four from open play, and three coming in the last three games. Dhillon is a native of the OC, California, and played at Cal Poly before spending a few years in the Galaxy and Sounders organizations. Something about the spelling of his name always makes me think of Cecily Strong playing Donald Trump’s tax lawyer. I apologize in advance if you click that link without wanting to remember Alec Baldwin.

Sam Adeniran #14 – Extremely large man Sam Adeniran made the permanent move to the Sounders’ first team in December 2021, after a season in which he tallied two goals and an assist in four matches against the Roots, on his way to thirteen goals on the season. San Antonio are around top-three in the USL for defense, but lag a little bit behind in goals scored, so getting Adeniran on loan from Sounders looks like a canny move. If Adeniran never makes the break-through to the next level, the Roots owe it to their fans to try to sign him as the natural successor to Jeremy Bokila in the “kinda slow but fucking enormous striker category.”

Lineup and Score Predictions

Bloom

Rito’s injury did not look like one he is coming back from in three days, so I am going to beat my drum again for a move to four at the back. The Roots got completely overwhelmed in midfield by New Mexico, and without Rito’s pace on the wings, as good as Memo is, the Roots just largely stopped doing anything with the ball. I also think the Roots should switch to four at the back for this one because they need to change things up, and they are probably going to lose this game no matter what. Make the god damned change.

I think it’s probably possible to avoid getting dominated by San Antonio, but they are going to make the Roots pay for errors at the back. I successfully predicted the Roots would fall 2-1 to New Mexico, and having paid my dues to the gods of luck and intellectual honesty, I will go back to wish-casting and say 1-1 Roots.

Jon

I’m with the guys in that Rito’s injury provides the perfect time to deploy the back-four, but until Juan Guerra officially changes his system, i’ll provide some differentiation with the continued three. I see Guerra as a coach wanting to create a consistent formation and identity; the results have been underwhelming but not particularly terrible. Memo may not be Rito, but I think Guerra likes him going forward, and perhaps he can utilize his ability to draw fouls. My score: Roots pull off a 2-1 win.

Aaron

I agree with Bloom–Rito’s injury did not look like anything we’ll be rushing him back from. Unfortunately for Oakland, Rito’s pace was like 50-75% of how they were dealing with the fact that the forwards and the backline were getting split. So something will have to change here. Ultimately, I don’t know if it matters. For my money, SAFC is the best in the West. Were this at Laney, I’d feeling differently, especially having watched Oakland dominate Colorado Springs for 60 minutes here. My prediction:

SAFC 3-1 Roots

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