skip navigation

Three Things we took away from San Antonio and Sacramento’s battle

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 04/09/23, 1:25AM EDT


As defenses held sway, both teams were stellar in a hard-fought tilt that lived up to its billing

Squaring off as the top two teams in the USL Championship’s Western Conference so far this season, San Antonio FC and Sacramento Republic FC couldn’t be separated on Saturday night in a 0-0 draw that kept both sides undefeated so far this season in an enthralling contest at Toyota Field.

Here are three things we took away from the contest.


San Antonio FC has been most challenging team to visit in the USL Championship on its home turf for the past 12 months – it hasn’t suffered defeat at Toyota Field since Phoenix Rising FC handed it its lone home loss in 2022 on April 2 – and that was going to require a disciplined performance by Sacramento Republic FC to ensure it wasn’t the latest victim of the defending title holders.

Republic FC accomplished that by playing at times the same direct style that San Antonio has made its trademark. Minimizing risk in their own defensive third, the visitors were perfectly happy to go long when the situation called for it, and they were almost flawless when it came to winning possession. Republic FC won 16 of 18 tackles – Damia Viader leading the way going 4 of 4 – and allowed few premium chances for the hosts inside its penalty area. It was an impressive defensive display in a battle between two sides for which defense has become the foundation of their success. Sacramento has three consecutive shutouts in the league, the first time it has done that since last June in regular season play. It allowed the visitors to maintain their undefeated record this season.


At the base of San Antonio’s home undefeated streak – which is now at 18 regular season games – has been the next-man-up mentality that has allowed the side to overcome absences. On Saturday night it was 2022 Championship Defender of the Year Mitchell Taintor who was sidelined, moving Connor Maloney into the back line alongside Fabien Garcia and Lamar Batista, but the hosts didn’t miss a beat.

After recording two assists in the side’s victory against Monterey Bay F.C. last weekend, Maloney showed why he might be one of the most well-rounded players in the league again with a stellar defensive display that saw him record a game-high five interceptions and win 3 of 3 tackles to hold down the right side of the back line. San Antonio heads for a rematch of the 2022 Championship Final at Louisville City FC next weekend in another marquee matchup. Whoever suits up, expect another high-level display.  


As you might have guessed, big chances were few and far between. In San Antonio’s Cristian Parano and Sacramento’s Jack Gurr, however, there were potential game-winners down the right flank for both sides.

Parano’s return to San Antonio midway through last season gave the side a dynamic ballcarrier whose quick feet almost delivered a decisive blow inside the opening 15 minutes. Cutting in from the right side, the Argentine’s curling shot to the top-left corner was beyond the dive of Sacramento goalkeeper Danny Vitiello only to strike the crossbar and rebound to safety. Gurr, meanwhile, set up Viader for a close-range finish that San Antonio goalkeeper Jordan Farr did well to keep out before he managed to slip in off his flank four minutes before halftime to get on the end of a cross by Viader that flashed over the crossbar.

Overall, both sides were aiming to try and attack the right side of the field frequently – almost 60 percent of San Antonio’s attacks came via the right third of the field, while Sacramento went right almost 55 percent of the time. That’s a sign of the influence both Parano and Gurr – and the supporting Zico Bailey for San Antonio – had, even if their efforts to unlock all three points ultimately were held in check.

Follow the USL Championship

Most Recent News

Most Read News

Latest Videos