What to know ahead of San Antonio FC vs El Paso Locomotive

Image: Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

San Antonio FC has been preparing for the upcoming 2019 USL Championship season for several weeks, a process that includes training sessions and friendly pre-season matches against other squads.

Saturday marks the first, and only, pre-season match hosted at Toyota Field that will be open to the public. Expansion side El Paso Locomotive will face off against the Alamo City club for the first time as fans get their first local look at the club in action.

Players, coaches, and fans alike are all excited for the regular season to arrive, but Saturday night’s friendly will serve mostly as a taste of 2019.

When asked after training on Friday if he was excited to get back into an occupied Toyota Field, head coach Darren Powell had the following to say:

Like other players who have battled against SAFC at home, Defender Amer Didic seemed relieved to be on the other side of the player experience at Toyota Field:

(You can hear the full interviews on an upcoming episode of Play of the Game with Larry Leathers and Kyle Mahnke)

The pre-season friendly will serve as an introduction for many of San Antonio FC’s 2019 players. Of the 22 players on the roster, 15 were not with the squad in 2018. Included in that 15 however are former San Antonio players Billy Forbes and Walter Restrepo, and 15 year old academy standout-turned pro Leo Torres.

One of San Antonio’s biggest weaknesses in 2018 seemed to be inconsistency in the lineup. While we may see all 22 players (and some trialists) get minutes in this pre-season friendly, establishing a starting XI, especially a starting back line, will be key in early-season success for SAFC.

Three Points:

  1. With the retirements of Stephen McCarthy and Greg Cochrane and the departures of Darnell King and all of the center backs, Matt Cardone will have four new defenders to work with this season. The starters look to be right back Kai Greene, center backs Amer Didic and Josh Yaro, and left back Ebenezer Ackon. Fans may get a good look at the four Saturday night. Powell and Didic both seemed positive about the progress the defense is making, and emphasized that it takes time and professionalism to develop a solid defensive unit.
  2. Winger Billy Forbes has returned to San Antonio, adding to an already deep outside attacking roster. Where players like Forbes, Lance Laing, and Walter Restrepo land will be interesting to see develop.
  3. As reported by Texas Soccer Journal, Head Coach Darren Powell has alluded to a different playing style that San Antonio FC will have in 2019. If this holds true into the regular season, we may see SAFC get away from the 4-2-3-1 / 4-1-4-1 formations the club usually deploys. The depth at the attacking side of the field could point towards a 4-3-3 or another formation that would allow some of the big names that have landed in San Antonio to all get minutes.

San Antonio FC and El Paso Locomotive will kickoff at 7pm central at Toyota Field. More info can be found on SanAntonioFC.com