SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Seventy-two hours after battling Orange County SC to a draw on Saturday night, San Antonio FC returns to the pitch tomorrow night at Toyota Field for a match against Laredo Heat, its third home match in an eight-day span.
The catch? Tuesday's match is part of the U.S. Open Cup, not USL Championship competition.
"The Open Cup is one of those competitions that has a massive tradition," explained head coach Darren Powell. "It pits teams from the amateur level against teams from various leagues around the country, all the way through to Major League Soccer. Every team can dream big at the start of the year. It gives us a break from USL competition and we want to make sure we do well in the competition year in, year out."
"The buzz started today when Darren told us about it," said goalkeeper Jonathan Viscosi. "Just the fact that we could advance and draw an MLS team, that's a big motivation and I'm looking forward to it."
In preparation for the match, the Alamo City club practiced light Monday morning, choosing to spend more time resting and recovering ahead of another 90-minute clash. The opportunity ahead has helped players embrace the quick turnaround.
"It's a new challenge," Viscosi explained. "We haven't done it yet this season. Many different places and teams turn over quickly. Sometimes it's nice when you want to get a run of results going. It's not easy. It's very difficult, but we're all professionals. We know what to do and we've got really good staff. We're going to rest as much as we can so we can be prepared for tomorrow."
One of the biggest factors in SAFC's favor is home-field advantage. San Antonio enters tomorrow night riding a four-game unbeaten streak, and playing with that confidence in front of their home fans will serve them well.
"Obviously, our home form has been pretty solid, so we've got to continue that," Viscosi said. "We're a little disappointed we didn't get the win on Saturday, so it's a nice thing that Tuesday comes fast and we can get the win in front of our fans. It's always nice to play here."
"We're always very proud to come into this stadium and represent San Antonio," Powell explained. "I know the players. When they walk into the locker room, they have a buzz about representing this club. Tomorrow will be no different."
The opposition, Laredo Heat, is part of the National Premiere Soccer League, and won its opening-round U.S. Open Cup matchup against Cavalry 1-0 on May 7. Powell has already debriefed his squad on the threat the team presents.
"We watched them play last week in the first round and they played well in that game," Powell said. "They've got some very good players -- players that have some experience, as well. It'll be a challenge for the first round but our guys are excited about it."
"I heard they had a strong team last year, so we're not going to take them lightly and we know that they're going to come at us fully," Viscosi said. "We know what's it's like playing at that level and you go to play a professional team in a stadium like this, so they're going to be ready to go and we have to be ready for the fight, as well."
San Antonio FC and Laredo Heat take the pitch at Toyota Field on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.