PLAYOFF PREVIEW: SAFC hosts Western Conference Final this Sunday

San Antonio faces the Colorado Springs Switchbacks for third time this season.

SAFC defender Mitchell Taintor celebrates San Antonio's 3-0 win on October 28, 2022 against the Oakland Roots SC at Toyota Field. (William Caldera, Copyright 2022 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – When it comes to playoff wins, not much could have gone better for San Antonio last Friday when they defended home field with a 3-0 win over the Oakland Roots SC.

Forward Samuel Adeniran got the scoring off early with his fourth goal of the season against Oakland while forward Santiago Patiño scored twice more after halftime, sending the 8,208 into a frenzy at Toyota Field.

Now that victory’s in the rearview mirror as SAFC prepares to host the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC this coming Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. for the Western Conference Final. This is San Antonio’s second straight trip to the WCF.

San Antonio FC has not lost to Colorado Springs this season in their two matches. The two squads first met on June 24 on the road, where SAFC earned the 1-0 victory thanks to an own goal in the 48th minute. They met again on September 20 in San Antonio, where SAFC won with a 1-0 score thanks to a PC goal in the 76th minute.

SAFC however will not have PC in the lineup Sunday due to an injury early on in Friday’s victory. PC had leaped in the air when he and an Oakland defender collided.

PC received a knee to the rib section, fell hard and had to be stretchered off the pitch. It wasn’t until after the match that we learned PC had to be transported to a local hospital.

Earlier this week. PC posted on his Instagram account that he had suffered three broken ribs, and his spleen was bleeding, which required surgery.

“We’ve had 34 different starting lineups out of 35 games. It’s ‘next man up’ mentality, and that has to continue this week,” head coach Alen Marcina told KSAT 12 Sports this past Thursday.

“I think everyone will miss him, but that’s not to say that the next guy up can’t do the same job,” added defender Connor Maloney. “We’ve been prepared all year. Every single guy, every single individual is prepared to play any position at any given time. It’s just the principles that matter in the little details that need to be executed to win this game.”

ALL-TIME SERIES NOTES

San Antonio FC has an undefeated record against Colorado Springs in the USL with a 5-0-2 record. SAFC has also won three-straight shutouts against the Switchbacks.

“Going into a final right now, I think we are a completely different team mentally and physically,” said defender Mitchell Taintor. “We just need to do what we’ve been doing all year. Obviously, there’s a lot of emotions. It’s a conference final, and there’s a trophy on the line at home, so it’s something we don’t want to lose. And we have to ride the emotions but manage them at the same time.”

Colorado Springs last beat San Antonio FC in March of 2019, last scored against San Antonio last season and have never won at Toyota Field.

SEASONAL AWARDS

San Antonio’s stellar performance on the pitch not only earned them the best overall record in the USL in 2022 but also nominations for some end of the season awards as well.

On Wednesday, SAFC announced that their third-year head coach Alen Marcina is nominated for Coach of the Year. Defender Mitchell Taintor is a finalist for Defender of the Year and goalkeeper Jordan Farr is a finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year. Both Taintor and Farr were also named to the All-League First Team on Tuesday.

“I think it’s great, I’m incredibly proud of both Mitchell and Jordan, it’s deserving.” said Marcina. “I’m a little bit disappointed that there wasn’t others that were selected. There’s a lot of players that the league could have selected to be on the First Team or Second Team. As nice as those individual recognitions and allocates are, we’re about winning and hopefully winning a championship.”

The winners of the Goalkeeper and Defender of the Year awards will be announced Tuesday while the Coach of the Year award will be announced the next day.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE

San Antonio FC has said time and time again how much they love their fans here in the Alamo City. They’ve credited their fans for giving them that home field advantage all season long.

“It’s an amazing atmosphere. It’s very hostile, it’s difficult to play, difficult to hear, even for us,” explained Maloney. “When we have such a team that is so connected and just know where we’re going to be at any given time. It helps with being on the field and not having to communicate as much. The fans are great. This is one of the toughest places to play -- talk to any guy in the league. Those fans, that’s what’s going to propel us to hopefully win this game.”

There are limited tickets available for Sunday’s match which can be purchased by visiting TicketMaster.com or the SAFC website.

Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 for over 19 years and is an award-winning producer. To submit story ideas, email dvillanueva@ksat.com


About the Authors:

Daniel P. Villanueva has been with KSAT 12 since 2003 and is the producer of our weekly sports show, "Instant Replay." Villanueva is a graduate of St. Mary's University and is a TAPB and Lone Star Emmy award winner.

Larry Ramirez joined the KSAT 12 sports team in October 2004.