SAN ANTONIO – When you make a long postseason run, you have a short off-season.
It’s been less than three months since San Antonio FC became the champions of the United Soccer League. Now, SAFC has opened training camp to begin preparations to defend their first league championship.
The cold didn’t stop SAFC from kicking off training camp. The champs are back and preparing for the new season. @cmalpsu5 @MitchellTaintor @SanAntonioFC @InstantReplaySA pic.twitter.com/2LLa5MuMSy— Larry Ramirez (@LRam2) February 1, 2023
Camp opened Tuesday morning in cold conditions at the STAR Soccer Complex outside Toyota Field. Head Coach Alen Marcina told KSAT 12 Sports on Friday that 60% of the squad from last season has returned for the 2023 season. The squad knows that the rest of the league will be anxious to attempt to defeat the defending champs.
“It’s a huge piece to have them back,” said forward Justin Dhillon. “We have very incredibly talented players, ‘mentality monsters’ - that’s a different breed. That’s not just any good soccer player coming in here. You have to be a specific individual. To bring back so much of that core, so much of that group that has found success year after year that has contributed to the culture is really important. It’s going to make all the new guys coming in here feel that much more at ease knowing that there is this foundation that’s been built that they’ll be able to plug in right away.”
Some of the familiar faces returning include the 2022 USL Defender of the Year Mitchell Taintor and 2022 USL Goalkeeper of the Year Jordan Farr.
Another recognizable face back is midfielder Victor “PC” Giro. PC went down at the beginning of the playoffs against the Oakland Roots SC after a terrible collision. Friday was the first time we heard from him since the injury he suffered that included three broken ribs and a bleeding spleen, requiring surgery.
“It was a tough time for me, to not be there in the finals,” said PC. “I got on the ground and I was in a lot of pain and I told the guys that were around me that I broke my ribs. I didn’t know that it was three and everything with my spleen but right away I knew I broke something inside me.”
“For me, it was an accident,” said PC when asked how he saw the play on video afterward. ”He tried to protect himself. I was running to him, he was running to me. He texted me. He apologized to me and everything. For me, it was accident from our job and there’s nothing you can do. It was out of our control, both tried to protect ourselves. I got the worst part but it happened.”
PC told us he was in the hospital for 10 days. He’s still recovering but plans to be playing alongside his teammates in the 2023 season.
“I’m happy to be back,” explained PC. “Happy to be almost 100% healing and be back with the team.”
KSAT 12 Sports sat down for a one-on-one interview with head coach Alen Marcina, You can see that interview on Sunday, February 19 on Instant Replay.
A lil’ soccer tennis Sunday ☀️ #Defend210 pic.twitter.com/M88a2EBmmJ— San Antonio FC (@SanAntonioFC) February 5, 2023
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Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 for over 19 years and is an award-winning producer. To submit story ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org.