Images: Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC will travel north to face OKC Energy FC Saturday night, with the Alamo City club looking to avoid going 0-7-0 in USL play away from Toyota Field this season. SAFC has never lost to OKC on the road, with the all-time series an even 1-1-6 and SAFC’s record at OKC standing at 1-0-3.
After failing to secure a point in all 6 away matches this USL Championship season, Saturday could be the match fans get to see a pair of 17-year-old San Antonio natives in action together on the road for the first time.
After veteran striker and all-time leader in goals for SAFC Ever Guzman got the team on the board in the club’s most recent match against Reno 1868, midfielders Ethan Bryant and Jose Gallegos each bagged their first USL goals of the season. Coming less than 2 minutes apart, the pair would be enough to get San Antonio FC an exciting comeback victory. The goal and overall performance from Gallegos was also enough to get the rookie into the league’s Team of the Week.
With the pair shining brightly in the SAFC midfield, Saturday could be the first time the “kids” take their show on the road together.
After last week’s victory, SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell mentioned in his post-match presser that Gallegos recently finished his high school exams and Bryant has been recovering from injury.
SAFC’s 18 man squads when playing on the road have generally leaned heavily on veteran players. Gallegos and Bryant have never played together on the road in a USL Championship match. Gallegos was available as sub in New Mexico and subbed on in the 78th minute in RGV. Bryant’s lone road appearance came in the 82nd minute in Sacramento.
While more veteran players like Guzman and Jack Barmby will likely continue to make massive contributions to the club, the two teenagers could be part of what San Antonio FC has been missing in 2019. Even if they don’t make the starting XI, coming in as fresh legs earlier than they have in previous matches could be the type of strong, match-changing substitutes SAFC needs.
After SAFC’s victory over Reno, defender Kai Greene, who quietly had a solid performance himself, said the following:
It is massive. The guys needed this, everybody needed this, the whole city needed this. You could tell the fans were a little anxious when we were down 2-0 and I don’t blame them. We had to put it upon ourselves to dig deep. We owe it to ourselves, the organization and to our fans who come out and support us day in and day out. We had to come together collectively. The young guys helped carry us, they did their jobs, they buried the goals that we needed and we locked it in to stay 3-2 up the rest of the game.
Greene, and likely the rest of the SAFC roster, seems to be very aware of how the community around the team has reacted to the team’s poor start to the season. While the entire season shouldn’t be placed on the shoulders of two players whose combined age is less than Rafa Castillo’s, some youthful energy might be just what this squad needs to turn the season around.