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San Antonio FC 2022 Season Preview

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/04/22, 5:00PM EST


2022 Outlook

It might not have matched the regular season success of the club’s 2017 campaign, but San Antonio FC’s run to the Western Conference Final of the USL Championship Playoffs marked the best campaign in the club’s history before falling in a penalty shootout to eventual title winner Orange County SC. The question now will be what Head Coach Alen Marcina’s side can accomplish as a follow-up after the departure of some key attacking pieces over the past offseason.

At the top of that list was the transfer of homegrown winger Jose Gallegos to Danish Superliga club SønderjyskE after he was nominated for the Championship’s Young Player of the Year award for a second consecutive year and earned All-League Second Team honors after recording seven goals and four assists while leading the league in completed dribbles. Also departed is leading scorer Nathan Fogaca following the conclusion of his loan from Brazil’s Coritiba FC, and winger Marcus Epps, who also had seven goals and four assists a season ago before heading to Phoenix Rising FC.

SAFC has looked to replicate that wide productivity with one of the high-profile signings of the offseason, bringing in Kekuta Manneh from Major League Soccer’s Austin FC. The Gambia-born, Texas-raised Manneh should be an ideal fit at Toyota Field in San Antonio’s system, and he could provide returning forward Santiago Patino – who notched eight goals in 14 games after an injury suffered early in the campaign – plenty of service. So too could Deshane Beckford, who impressed for Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC a season ago. With a bolstered back line that will likely include Mitchell Taintor after his transfer from Sacramento Republic FC and new arrivals Carter Manley and Fabien Garcia and a competitive goalkeeping stable that includes local legend Matt Cardone and the incoming Cristian Bonilla – a former Colombia U-23 international – and Jordan Farr, San Antonio should be a contender once again.

Notable Arrivals

Cristian Bonilla – Colombian goalkeeper brings senior international experience from early in career

Mitchell Taintor – Center back joined SAFC via transfer from Sacramento Republic FC after loan in 2021

Kekuta Manneh – Experienced, speedy winger will look to fill gaps left by departures in attacking third

Fabien Garcia – French defender has experience, also brings potential danger at set pieces

Notable Departures

Jose Gallegos – Academy standout was transferred to Danish Superliga club SønderjyskE

Nathan Fogaca – Leading scorer returned to Brazil’s Coritiba FC following conclusion of loan

Marcus Epps – Dangerous winger made move in Western Conference to Phoenix Rising FC

Cam Lindley – Midfielder joined Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC after leading side in Chances Created

Two To Watch

Kekuta Manneh, Forward

The 2022 season will mark Kekuta Manneh’s 10th in the professional ranks, having been selected in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft after shining in USL League Two for the Austin Aztex before turning 18 years of age. That gave an idea of the precocity of Manneh’s talent, and while recent seasons have brought challenges – including a disappointing season with Austin FC last year that saw him record only 344 minutes of action – the ability he possesses to take on opposing defenses with his technique and speed is one that could be an ideal fit for San Antonio FC. With Jose Gallegos now in Denmark’s Superliga after his offseason transfer, Manneh could fit in well on the left flank of SAFC’s attack. The 27-year-old completed 47 of 75 dribbles in the past three seasons – a 62.7 percent success rate – which could lead to chances for his new club as SAFC tries to go at least one better than its first Western Conference Final appearance a season ago.

PC, Defender

It can be hard to pin down a side’s performance to one individual, but the numbers for San Antonio FC when PC was in the lineup during the 2021 regular season and those when he wasn’t offered a glimpse of what SAFC missed when the influential Brazilian wasn’t on the field. In PC’s 18 appearances, San Antonio went 11-3-4 and posted an Expected Goals Against mark of 15.45xGA. In the 14 games he was unavailable for, the side went 3-5-6 and had an Expected Goals Against mark of 24.97xG. That’s a big difference, and a major reason why the club was happy to secure the 27-year-old for a third season. If PC can avoid injury over the course of the 2022 campaign, he should be a driving force for continued success in SAFC’s ranks.


Alen Marcina (3rd Season)

After leading the side to a group victory but early exit in the postseason in 2020, SAFC Head Coach Alen Marcina’s hard-edged side delivered postseason success last season that the group will be looking to improve on this season. The Canadian national could also look to find a way to incorporate the young talent that will be in the squad now looking to follow the footsteps of Jose Gallegos to Europe.

Key Number

94 San Antonio FC’s 94 yellow cards during the 2021 regular season were the most in the league, and the second-most in a season in league history after the 99 cautions accumulated by Las Vegas Lights FC in 2018 under former Head Coach José Luis Sánchez Solá – El Chelis.

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