Will The Lab be too much for San Antonio FC to overcome?


San Antonio FC has never won in Albuquerque.

It’s true. If you look at the results dating back to 2019, SAFC has never won at The Lab. To be even more accurate, SAFC has a losing record against United. In the seven meetings between the two sides, United holds a 5-2-0 lead.

But, don’t sleep on the visitors this year.

Sure, we all predicted a win this week on the podcast and it was pretty easy to come to that decision. The problem though is that San Antonio is a much better club than a lot of folks believe. People around the league slept on them last year and to an extent are doing the same this time around.

Last year, I told people that SAFC was a much better team than their results showed. Ultimately, they made it to the Western Conference Finals. This year has much of the same feel, even though they are in a very good spot early on. They’ve dealt with injuries and the loss of several key players, some unexpectedly. But, they’ve found a way to win seven of eight in all competitions to open their season.

One of the keys to their start has been the play of Elliot Collier. After an uneventful stint with Chicago Fire, and spending most of that time on loan, Collier has stepped into a starting role with SAFC and is making the most of it. Through six appearances, Collier has found the back of the net four times for his new club and is fitting in quite well.

For United the match on Saturday is about two things; first, make The Lab back into a fortress and two, make a statement over a quality opponent.

In recent weeks, United dropped points at home twice. That’s not something that they can afford to keep doing if they want to make the playoffs this year. Dropping points happened far too often in 2021.

With the string of poor results sitting in the rearview mirror, it would be easy to say that it’s the same old club.

Cole is going to be the commissioner of the Armchair Manager’s League

The thing is, it’s not the same club. Not even close. Sure, there are a lot of the same names, but the style of play is completely different. We have a new gaffer on the touchline. The thing we have to remember is that the results won’t always go our way. There have times in each of the last few games where we looked head and shoulders better than our opponents. Every club has struggles. San Antonio has overcome some early season issues, so has Phoenix.

The other thing to remember: It’s not all on Zach. Zach can’t play the game for them. His job is to prepare them and you can see changes in the play on the pitch.

On Saturday, United has to come out fast and control the pace against an opponent that isn’t afraid to scrap. Neco Brett and Tabort-Etaka Preston have the pace to disrupt SAFC at the back, what they need is better linkup play from the midfield. Sergio Rivas and Chris Wehan haven’t been quite on the same page as the new forwards so trying to build from the middle of the pitch hasn’t worked well so far. United has compensated for that by forcing the play forward with the wingbacks. If the midfield can get into a rhythm it will open up things for the forwards to get in behind and threaten goal.

Players to Watch

Jordan Farr – After serving in an emergency role in the 2021 playoffs, Farr is off to a grea start in 2022. Four goals allowed through six leage matches shows that he could be an every week starter for most clubs.

Neco Brett – Already tied for eighth all-time in goals scored, Brett provides a dynamic attacking option that United sorely needed. Pair him with Preston and the two can create spaces between defenders to allow the other to make a run.

Saturday night’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. MT from The Lab. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ for domestic viewers and internationally on YouTube. Locally, the match will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team, via The TEAM app, and The TEAM website.