It’s a great hypothetical – if you took the San Antonio FC and Louisville City FC squads and were to build a lineup, which of the players set to feature in the 2022 USL Championship Final on Sunday night would make the cut?
Well, on the face of the team I’ve come up with, we’re in for a fascinating battle.
With six of the 11 selections, San Antonio has the narrow edge in representation, although there were some very difficult decisions all over the pitch.
Given the potential both sides could use some variation of a 3-4-3 formation when they square off at Toyota Field (8:30 p.m. ET | ESPN2 | ESPN Deportes | SiriusXM FC), that’s what we’ve gone for here.
Now, argue amongst yourselves.
GK – Jordan Farr, San Antonio FC – All due respect to Danny Faundez, who might be the best story of this postseason, but there’s no way to exclude the 2022 Championship Goalkeeper of the Year. Farr’s 18 shutouts and 76.9% save percentage have put him at the front of SAFC’s success this year.
CB – Sean Totsch, Louisville City FC – A three-time Championship Final winner in his career, Totsch joined some elite company this year with his third consecutive selection to the Championship All-League First Team. Finishing second in Defender of the Year balloting this year, you figure that award will be claimed by the veteran before his career is complete.
CB – Mitchell Taintor, San Antonio FC – Taintor wasn’t just the Defender of the Year in the Championship, there was a serious consideration for the center back to be the league’s MVP, even if that came up short. There’s no way he wasn’t getting the nod here, though.
CB – Fabien Garcia, San Antonio FC – This might be the first controversy of the lineup, but Garcia shades it narrowly over LouCity’s Joshua Wynder. The veteran Frenchman recorded 30 tackles, 121 clearances, 68 interceptions, all with a sizeable margin over Wynder, and his left foot has delivered 38 chances created and three assists this year.
LWB – Amadou Dia, Louisville City FC – The left-sided veteran delivered exactly what he was expected to upon his arrival at LouCity, posting an individual single-season high with eight assists while winning 72.5 percent of tackles and making 41 interceptions.
RWB – Manny Perez, Louisville City FC – The 23-year-old returned to the sort of form that made him such a strong prospect when he was part of the United States U-20 Men’s National Team in college. Perez leads LouCity with 39 won tackles and has recorded 27 chances created and two assists
CM – Connor Maloney, San Antonio FC - Nominally a defender, Maloney has made the vast majority of his starts for SAFC in midfield, hence he slots into the center of the park. The 27-year-old isn’t just versatile, he delivers at a high level whatever the role he’s being asked to deliver, and has won 60 tackles this season alongside 63 interceptions.
CM – Paolo DelPiccolo, Louisville City FC – There’s a truth here that DelPiccolo isn’t always a 90-minute player for LouCity anymore – in 21 of his 25 starts this season, he’s been substituted off – but what he brings on the field still resonates. While playing 750 fewer minutes in the regular season, DelPiccolo’s G+ rating (+4.70) was almost level with Sean Totsch’s (+4.79).
LW – Enoch Mushagalusa, Lousiville City FC – The Congolese winger has been a scintillating presence on the left side for LouCity this season, recording 10 goals and three assists while completing 70 dribbles across the regular season and playoffs. That’s second-most in the league, making him a threat to stretch any defensive line.
CF – Samuel Adeniran, San Antonio FC – Here’s another really difficult call, with Adeniran getting the nod over Louisville City FC’s Wilson Harris. There’s a strong case for Harris, whose 15 goals are more than Adeniran’s 12 while the two are close in most other categories. Adeniran’s form lifts him, though, with a goal and assist this postseason while Harris has only four shots.
RW – Santiago Patiño, San Antonio FC – We’ve got quite the conundrum for the final spot on the team, too. On one hand, you have LouCity’s Brian Ownby, one of the league’s all-time playoff greats. But, he’s questionable to go, and that means Patiño takes the spot. There’s good reason for that, too. With nine goals and a strike rate of a goal every 111.4 minutes, the Colombian is in blistering form this postseason with three goals.