San Antonio FC and its fans have made Toyota Field the most difficult venue to win at in the USL Championship over the past three seasons. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC’s Toyota Field will host its first senior national team contest when it welcomes the United States Men’s National Team for an exhibition against Slovenia on Saturday, January 20, with kickoff scheduled for 3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT.
The home of the 2022 USL Championship title winners – and one of the most successful clubs in the league over the past four seasons overall under the stewardship of Head Coach Alen Marcina – Toyota Field has provided the backdrop for many memorable moments in its history.
Here are four things to know about its latest moment on the national stage.
Next month’s game will mark the second time the USMNT has played at a United Soccer Leagues’ venue. The prior occasion occurred in March, 2018 when Bobby Wood’s first-half penalty kick sent the side to a 1-0 victory against Paraguay at North Carolina FC’s WakeMed Soccer Park. That contest saw the senior international debut of current Juventus winger Tim Weah, and the first starts for goalkeeper Zack Steffen and center back Cameron Carter-Vickers.
January’s contest will fall outside a FIFA international window, but there is still set to be a high level of talent on hand for the United States’ squad. January camp has been the launching pad for numerous major figures in the program’s past and present – including USL Championship alumni Matt Turner, Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson – and five players who have made more than 100 appearances for the USMNT – Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.
2021 USL Championship All-League selection Diego Luna has featured at Toyota Field before while at El Paso Locomotive FC, and could get his first chance with the USMNT next month. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
January’s camp is set to be made up of players based at domestic clubs, and that could include a breakthrough moment for those who have shone in the USL Championship and League One and in the U.S. Youth National Team programs in recent years. Take for example 2021 USL Championship All-League selection Diego Luna, formerly of El Paso Locomotive FC, who has impressed for Real Salt Lake this season and at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. This could be the moment for the 20-year-old to receive his first senior national team call-up and show Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff what he can offer at a venue at which he's previously found the net.
The USMNT will be hoping to capture some of San Antonio FC’s homefield mojo as it calls Toyota Field its home for the week. SAFC has suffered a league-fewest five home defeats over the past three seasons at Toyota Field, posting a record of 31-5-20 under Head Coach Alen Marcina at the venue. That success has also translated to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, where in 2022 the side claimed a thrilling victory against Major League Soccer’s Austin FC, while also winning the 2022 USL Championship title on home turf against Louisville City FC.