San Antonio FC’s 1-0 victory last week in Pittsburgh, paired with Memphis 901 FC’s loss in Miami, means that the playoffs will run through Toyota Field. It’s looked that way for a while now, but it’s time to commend just how dominant this SAFC team has been this season.
Earlier in the year, we looked at the unusual tactics San Antonio deploys. In June, we noted that San Antonio sits last in the league in possession (42.29%), passing accuracy (66.69%), passes attempted and passes completed.
Well, four months later, all those things are still true, but San Antonio continues to rack up wins at an incredible rate.
They don’t want the ball, they don’t want to make a ton of passes, but they’ll probably beat you 1-0. They’re a really fascinating team to watch and now they’re closing in on some all-time USL Championship records. If San Antonio wins its remaining two matches, it will set records for points in a season and wins in a season. Orlando City’s record of 2.38 points-per-game in 2012 is safe. San Antonio can only top out at 2.32.
The team has conceded just one goal since August 28. And it’s not because they’re playing a soft bit of the schedule. San Antonio has played six consecutive games against teams either already clinched or above the current playoff line. SAFC’s last loss to a playoff team was August 6, though we should note it was against the West’s No. 2 seed, San Diego. Before that, you’d have to go all the way back to June 4.
With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, FiveThirtyEight gives San Antonio FC a 28 percent chance of lifting the trophy, ahead of Louisville’s 24 percent. San Antonio is 11-4-1 this season at home, with the only loss a 2-0 defeat to Phoenix Rising FC on April 2.
THE WEST REMAINS CRAZY
It feels impossible, but we’ll make it to the penultimate weekend of the regular season without seeing any further eliminations in the Western Conference. The only team eliminated so far is Orange County SC – the reigning USL Championship Final winners.
Wins from Phoenix Rising FC and LA Galaxy II kept both of those clubs in the running ahead of this week’s contests. Even if LA loses tonight in New Mexico, it will remain mathematically alive with two games left. Only a handful of games remain on the calendar and yet 12 of 13 teams remain in contention in the West. Compare that to the East, where the full playoff field has been set since mid-September.
It’s an incredible show of parity where there is a scenario that sees Oakland Roots SC miss the playoffs with 49 points. Three of the top five teams in the conference have had a three-game losing skid within the last month. The conference has proven really hard to predict and it’s anyone’s guess how things will shake out over the next 11 days.
HAT TRICKS ABOUND
Saturday saw three different players score a hat trick in Hartford’s Andre Lewis, Detroit City FC’s Maxi Rodriguez and FC Tulsa’s Luca Sowinksi. This was the first time in USL Championship history that three hat tricks were scored on the same day.
Rodriguez took home Player of the Week honors as voted by a national media panel, but it was the other two hat tricks that were a little more unique.
In addition to the goals, Lewis also recorded an assist in a 6-3 victory over the Charleston Battery, becoming the 17th player in USL Championship history to score three or more goals and provide at least one assist in the same game. Lewis was preceded in this feat this season by Louisville City FC’s Enoch Mushagalusa and Atlanta United 2’s Jackson Conway.
Sowinski’s hat trick came in a 4-2 win over the Indy Eleven. It was just the second professional appearance ever for the 18-year-old attacker, who signed his first pro contract in July. Sowinski’s hat trick came at the age of 18 years and 119 days, making him the third-youngest player to score a hat trick in USL Championship history, after Efrain Alvarez (15 years, 325 days) and Jesus Ferreira (17 years, 256 days). Alvarez also scored a hat trick as a 17-year-old.
Approaching 150 regular-season appearances
Wes Charpie (LOU) – 142
Approaching 100 regular-season appearances
Laurent Kissiedou (MEM) – 99
Jake Areman (TBR) – 98
Joe Kuzminsky (CHS) – 97
Adrian Diz Pe (TUL) – 97
Approaching 15,000 regular-season minutes
Lebo Moloto (TUL) – 14,900
Kyle Greig (TBR) – 14,849
Approaching 10,000 regular-season minutes
Sebastian Guenzatti (TBR) – 9,958
Thomas Vancaeyezeele (TBR)– 9,874
Approaching 75 regular season goals
Cameron Lancaster (LOU) – 73
Approaching 50 regular season goals
Chris Wehan (NM) – 49
Alex Dixon (PIT) – 48
Lucky Mkosana (TBR) – 47
Approaching 30 regular season assists
Oscar Jimenez (LOU) – 29
Lewis Hilton (TBR) – 28
Niall McCabe (LOU) – 27
Justin Portillo (NM) – 27
Approaching 250 regular season saves
Jeff Caldwell (COS) – 244
Approaching 60 regular-season shutouts
Evan Newton (ELP) – 58
Approaching 40 regular-season shutouts
Alex Tambakis (NM) – 39
Matt VanOekel (BHM) – 38
Approaching 30 regular-season shutouts
Joe Kuzminsky (CHS) – 29
CJ Cochran (TBR) – 29
TAMPA, Fla. – The following is the USL Championship’s discipline report for Week 31 of the 2022 USL Championship season:
Las Vegas Lights FC’s Dekel Keinan has been suspended for one game after receiving a red card for a professional foul in Las Vegas’ match against New Mexico United on September 30. Keinan will be unavailable for selection against The Miami FC on October 8.
The Charleston Battery’s Preston Kilwien received his 8th caution of the season in Charleston’s match against Hartford Athletic on October 1 and has been suspended one game for caution accumulation. Kilwien will be unavailable for selection October 8 against the Indy Eleven.
Rio Grande Valley FC’s Erik Pimentel received his 8th caution of the season in RGV FC’s match against Louisville City FC on October 1 and has been suspended one game for caution accumulation. Pimentel will be unavailable for selection October 8 against Phoenix Rising FC.
Orange County SC’s Milan Iloski received his 8th caution of the season against San Diego Loyal SC on October 1 and has been suspended one game for caution accumulation. Iloski will be unavailable for selection October 8 against El Paso Locomotive FC.
New York Red Bulls II’s Michael Knapp has been suspended one game after receiving two yellow cards and a red card in New York’s match against Phoenix Rising FC on October 1. Knapp will be unavailable for selection October 9 against Memphis 901 FC.
LA Galaxy II’s Michael Salazar has been suspended one game for receiving a red card for violent conduct in LA’s match against Sacramento Republic FC on October 2. Salazar will be unavailable for selection October 5 against New Mexico United.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Leo Fernandes has been suspended one game for receiving a red card for violent conduct in Tampa Bay’s match against Monterey Bay F.C. on October 2. Fernandes will be unavailable for selection against Loudoun United FC on October 8.
The following players enter the upcoming matches one caution away from a yellow card accumulation suspension for their eighth yellow card of the season. Here is the breakdown per club:
· Birmingham Legion FC (1): Enzo Martinez
· Indy Eleven (1): Jesus Vazquez, Manuel Arteaga
· LA Galaxy II (1): Remi Cabral
· Memphis 901 FC (1): Leston Paul
· Rio Grande Valley FC (1): Akeem Ward
· Sacramento Republic FC (1): Douglas Martinez
· San Diego Loyal SC (2): Kyle Adams, Jack Blake
· Tampa Bay (1): Aaron Guillen
The following players enter the upcoming matches one caution away from a yellow card accumulation suspension for their 11th yellow card of the season. Here is the breakdown per club:
· Birmingham Legion FC (1): Mikey Lopez
· El Paso Locomotive FC (1): Eder Borelli
· Hartford Athletic (1): Younes Boudadi
· Indy Eleven (1): Sam Brown
· Las Vegas Lights FC (1): Alejandro Lara
· San Antonio FC (1): Victor Giro
Tag(s): San Antonio FC CO Spring Switchbacks LA Galaxy II Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC FC Tulsa Charleston Battery Louisville City FC New York Red Bulls II Pittsburgh Riverhounds Tampa Bay Rowdies Las Vegas Lights FC Birmingham Legion FC Atlanta United 2 Indy Eleven Memphis 901 FC El Paso Locomotive FC New Mexico United Loudoun United FC Hartford Athletic San Diego Loyal SC The Miami FC Oakland Roots SC Detroit City FC Monterey Bay F.C.