SAN ANTONIO – Consistency is hard to find in professional sports, especially in constructing and maintaining roster. San Antonio FC knows this all to well. After an offseason marked by change, only eight current players were affiliated with the Alamo City club in 2019.
But only one has been with the team since its inception in 2016: Matt Cardone.
“I just love being here," Cardone said. "I don’t take it for granted. The opportunity to represent the city and the club is a big responsibility to have every day you come out here.”
A San Antonio native, Cardone has methodically worked his way up through the ranks, from starring at MacArthur High School, to competing with Classics Elite Soccer Academy and turning in a pair of All-American seasons at Trinity University. After graduating in 2014, it didn’t take Cardone long to get a shot at the professional level, starting three games with the now-defunct San Antonio Scorpions in their final season. In many ways, Cardone’s soccer history is the city’s as well, and it’s emblematic of the larger contextual narrative surrounding SAFC’s homegrown talent.
“It’s cool to see how things have grown from different clubs, to how this club started, to where it is today with the first team, the academy programs and everybody involved," Cardone explained. "They’ve all done a really great job, and I’ve learned a lot coming from college to being a pro. I’ve learned so much and I’ve had great coaches and great staff here, fellow goalkeepers as well. They’ve all helped me out a lot, and it’s just been really great so far.”
“I’ve had the fortunate experience to work alongside him in two different organizations," said current SAFC and former Scorpions head coach Alen Marcina. "He’s grown tremendously, and he’s been a great example to all of our youth and the aspiring goalkeepers here in San Antonio. He’s the only keeper to my knowledge that has spent five years with the same club, so that’s something very special.”
Last season, Cardone delivered his best performance, notching a club-record 94 saves and adding 7 clean sheets to his resume. Both of those marks ranked in the top 10 among Western Conference goalkeepers and in the top third of the entire USL. This year, Cardone has picked up right where he left off, notching his 18th career clean sheet in San Antonio’s 1-0 season-opening victory over Real Monarchs SLC.
It’s a sure sign that Cardone’s best days are still ahead of him.
“You’ve got to have the same mentality you had when you started playing," Cardone said. "You just have to want to constantly get better. You always want to progress personally and help the team have a successful year. That means getting into the playoffs and bringing home a championship.”
That chase for a championship is currently postponed. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the USL announced that match play has been postponed for at least 30 days. No official word on the status of San Antonio FC’s next game has been released. KSAT 12 will bring you the latest updates on when and where the Alamo City club will resume the 2020 season.