All images: Steve Aibel, LittleOrcaSports.com
There are plenty of positives and plenty of negatives for San Antonio FC fans to take away from the last few days.
The return of former San Antonio Scorpions forward César Elizondo to Toyota Field is a welcome surprise. The dynamic attacking player is dangerous on his own accord and lethal when setting up others for goals. While we don’t know if we’ll see him against Vancouver, I would expect for him to see action very soon. [You’ll be able to hear from Elizondo as a short podcast bonus Friday afternoon]
Manolo Sanchez is back to health after suffering an injury while playing with the Puerto Rico National Team. After having to watch from the sidelines for so long, I don’t expect to see him this week as he gets back into form. But the midfielder’s return is a welcome sight as SAFC looks to shorten their injury report each week.
Of course the bad news is that captain and starting goalkeeper Josh Ford is suspended for the next three matches. It couldn’t come at a worse time as SA’s next opponents Vancouver and LA Galaxy 2 are the top two teams in the west. SA native Matt Cardone is expected to fill in between the pipes.
Of note, Vancouver was thumped 4-0 in their visit to RGV Wednesday. The Canadian side fielded 4 teenagers in the match. The possibility of Vancouver punting on this Texas roadtrip is not above discussion as they are for all intents and purposes in the playoffs already. If this is the case San Antonio must come away with three points and home, even without Ford.
Match Details: Game Seventeen. Toyota Field. San Antonio, TX. Saturday 7/16/2016. Kickoff 7:30PM CDT
How To Watch: SanAntonioFC.com , USL Match Center
Keys for SAFC: While Cardone might be in better form than his first appearance earlier in the season, the backline needs to make his job easier as he fills in for the next few weeks. If the SA native can hold the fort in his own town, Vancouver should concede on the other end.
Player To Watch: Stephen McCarthy is the player I’ll be watching most closely to see if he steps up to lead the defense in Ford’s absence, but really the entire backline is who will determine this game’s outcome.
Pitch Black Projected Starting XI (4-5-1): Cardone; Palacios, McCarthy, Bradnock-Brennan, Cochrane; Salazar; Alvarez, Reed, Castillo, Elizondo; Morgan
It appears that if Biko hasn’t secured a starting role at the expense of McBride, they’re at least equal. Morgan had a good showing in his time against OKC and I see no reason to not put him up top again. Elizondo should be in form after playing with his Costa Rican club, so if he’s picked up enough tactically, he could be very dangerous in his San Antonio return.
Score Prediction: San Antonio FC 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2