SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio FC kicked off its third season Monday with its first day of camp.
The green was filled with many familiar faces and high energy as the club's “2018 journey begins,” head coach Darren Powell said.
2017 was a big year for San Antonio FC:
- Clenched its first playoff berth
- Recorded the second-longest shutout streak in USL history.
- Only lost a total of four games, the fewest amount all USL teams.
- Recorded 29 points through its 11 matches of 2017, the best start in USL history.
... just to name a few.
Luckily the team resigned many familiar faces who remember last season all too well. San Antonio FC advanced to the USL Cup Playoffs Western Conference semifinal for the first time. The team fell to OKC Energy in penalty kicks.
“Obviously no one wants to end their season on penalty kicks -- it's the worst way to lose -- but with that being said, if you look at last year as a whole, I think it was a positive step forward,” third-year defender Greg Cochrane said. “I think there are a lot of things that we can learn from and step forward and take it one step farther this year. So I try not to dwell on the past at all. We look forward to take what we learned and to improve on it. It’s going to be a real great year this year."
2018 camp started two weeks earlier than past seasons and Powell says they are switching things up in practice as well.
“We worked with the ball today. ... Presenting a couple of scenarios, if the pressure comes from certain players off the opposition, this is what we’re trying to do. So we’re trying to get everyone on the same page on Day 1,” Powell said.
While the familiar faces give returning players and coach a good foundation to start on, Cochrane said, there are a few new faces joining the team this season as well.
A Dallas native, Mikey Lopez played with New York City FC (MLS) prior to coming to San Antonio FC. He says he’s happy to be closer to home.
“I think it’s going to be a great experience here. Just everything that they’re trying to do, it just really drew me here to help push it to the MLS. And to represent the club, the city, and to be back in my state as well,” Lopez said.
Incorporating new players into the mix will take time, Cochrane explained, but he and Powell both agreed this team has unfinished business this season.
“I think as a group we feel as if there's some unfinished business and we have addressed that internally so we want make sure we do a little better (this season) and take this team to the next level,” Powell said.
The season kicks off March 17 in Sacramento. The team's first home game is Saturday, March 24, against Saint Louis.