San Antonio FC celebration
Darren Abate/USL

Know thy enemy: WFC2 face tough test versus USL-best San Antonio FC

Whitecaps FC 2 face their toughest test of the young USL season this weekend, when San Antonio FC roll through town brandishing a league-best 3W-0L-1D record.

Just who are these guys and how did they get to the top of the table early in the year? Here's what you need to know about the visitors from the Alamo City, in advance of the UBC home opener on Saturday.

SPURS AND MLS

SAFC are owned and operated by Spurs Sports & Entertainment, the same group that runs five-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, widely considered as one of the best-run organizations in professional sports.

The USL club was founded in January 2016, with the ultimate goal of entering MLS by 2022. 

One look at the club's crest shows just how closely the Spurs are connected with its soccer operations. It includes the same silver spur that's present in the NBA team's logo.

This past February, the club announced a partnership with New York City FC, serving as their USL affiliate.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

A key player on the club's roster may ring a bell for Whitecaps FC 2 fans. Forward Kris Tyrpak has been a thorn on the 'Caps side since their inaugural season in 2015.

Most memorably, Tyrpak, then a member of Swope Park Rangers, scored a first-half brace in last year's Western Conference Final to end WFC2's postseason run. He also has three regular season goals against Vancouver, including one as a member of Austin Aztex, when he scored an 85th-minute winner to spoil the 'Caps finale at Thunderbird Stadium in September 2015. Tyrpak already has one goal this year, scoring a beauty of an equalizer versus Colorado Springs.

His partner up front is Cesar Elizondo, who has featured with Whitecaps FC midfielder Christian Bolaños on the Costa Rican national team. Elizondo, Bolaños, and WFC defender Kendall Waston were also teammates on Deportivo Saprissa, where each began their professional careers. The striker joined San Antonio midway through last season, making his debut in Vancouver's visit to Toyota Field last July. This past weekend, Elizondo netted two goals in the last 30 minutes of the 4-0 win over Reno.

In the midfield, Billy Forbes is one of only three USL players to have three or more goals, plus two or more assists to start the year. He was especially dynamic against Reno, tallying a goal and an assist, in addition to three other scoring chances created.

Starting in net for San Antonio is Matt Cardone, who is coming off a five-save clean sheet performance last week. He was equally impressive against WFC2 in their only other previous meeting, recording a shutout in the South Texas heat last July 2016. Cardone is tied for USL-lead with three clean sheets this year, just two away from matching his 2016 season total.

FAST START

SAFC are off to a blistering start, launching to the top of the table with a staunch defence and an explosive attack.

Their backline has conceded only one goal so far, resulting in a +8 goal differential, best in the USL.

Head coach Darren Powell has received balanced production from his attack, with five different players already having found the net in four matches. They also finish at an efficient rate, leading the league with a 33.3 per cent conversion rate.

WFC2 gun for their third consecutive win against San Antonio FC in their UBC home opener on Saturday. Kickoff at Thunderbird Stadium is at 3 p.m. Click here for ticket information.

 

Series: 
Topics: 

Bracket Challenge

You could win a VIP trip to the 2018 All-Star Game and season tickets to your favorite team. Make your picks now.

Secure your playoff seats!

Are you ready to rise #ForVancouver? The ’Caps are bringing playoffs back to our city! Be a part of the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver when the ‘Caps play in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. Get your tickets now.