Photo courtesy Darren Abate/San Antonio FC
SAN ANTONIO – As many notable performers as San Antonio FC has had this season, if there's one player who has been the key man it is undoubtedly the club's goals and assists leader, Billy Forbes. The Turks and Caicos international became the first player in club history to score double-digit goals in a season, scoring 10 goals and providing nine assists this year to help lead the side to the No. 2-seed in the Western Conference in the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs.
It's been an interesting year, to be sure, for Forbes. After recording six goals in the first seven matches of the season, which earned him the USL Player of the Month award for March & April, opponents began to zero in on reducing the threat he posed. Forbes was still dangerous, but the lack of numbers to back that up saw him adjust his style of play, becoming more of a provider, a role which Forbes relishes.
“To be honest, what I like doing most is setting up chances for my teammates, influencing games,” said Forbes. “I’m used to getting assists, usually my assists are higher so this year was a little strange with my goals count being higher.”
Forbes ability to create mitigated the dry spells he went through in terms of finding the net following the opening seven games of the regular season. He scored only one goal in 19 games through the middle of the season, that one tally coming interestingly against SAFC's opponent this Saturday in the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs, OKC Energy FC (8:30 p.m. ET | Preview).
As tough as that spell was for Forbes, keeping a positive attitude was key to pushing through. He scored three goals and added four assists over the side's final six games of the regular season, hitting form at just the right time as SAFC ran into its first trip to the postseason.
“I started the season well but then all of a sudden I just couldn’t get it to go. It’s not like I played badly, I just couldn’t find the net again. But for me it’s about keeping it positive, you have to have short-term memory with soccer,” said Forbes. “If something isn’t working, you have to go to the next one. I remember that I couldn’t score, but I could maybe play a little bit of defense, or get more assists for the team. You have to find other things, until you know what to do, and you know it’s working. That’s why I have a lot of goals, and assists for the team.”
Finding that happy medium between feeling the pressure to produce offensively and maintaining a positive attitude was one that could prove a challenge. SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell, has been pleased with the way Forbes reacted to the added defensive pressure, with the added work the winger has put in elsewhere on the field keeping him a valuable part of the side even when the goals weren't flowing.
“I think now he’s learning how he can adapt his game slightly to be more involved and more impactful,” said Powell. “Teams will obviously keep an eye on him, and he’s now understanding that and he can counteract that with some different ideas that he has and that he has in his locker.”
Despite the challenges this season has posed, Forbes' return to the Alamo City has been a major success overall. In addition to becoming the leading scorer in SAFC's short history, his charismatic demeanor off the field has made him a popular figure with SAFC fans. While that brings some added pressure as well, it's something Forbes has embraced.
“I know I have to go that extra mile, to keep our fans happy, to win games, we need to be on a positive note,” said Forbes. “Being a fan favorite in San Antonio, it’s something that I cherish a lot and I don’t take for granted because I love San Antonio, I love the fans, and I love the team.”
With history of success in prior postseasons, Forbes is eager to be a leading light in San Antonio's pursuit of a first USL Cup.
“In the season you see what players can do, but the playoffs it’s that time where you want your big players to show up and help the team in a bigger way,” said Forbes. “So for me, playoffs are that time of the year where you have to show other teams that we mean business."