By: Miguel Padilla
San Antonio FC held it’s first preseason match open to the public on Saturday evening at Toyota Field as they faced USL expansion club El Paso Locomotives FC. It was a preseason match that felt anything but, as the quick pace of the game, hard tackles and a couple scuffles brewed into a new rivalry that should excite the next two times El Paso and San Antonio meet in the 2019 regular season.
SAFC and El Paso finished in a hard fought nil-nil draw that saw a 45 minute half followed by a 30 minute second half, followed by a 45 minute “mini-game” so both rosters could get valuable minutes on the pitch before the USL Championship season starts in full.
Many around Toyota Field were impressed with SAFC’s ball movement and play in the preseason match, much of the talk in the stands Saturday evening turned to Cristian Parano. Cristian is from Argentina, has youth experience with River Plate, Boca Junior and San Martin.
Many fans were impressed by Cristian’s play. The 19 year old Argentine played well in the Center Midfield position drawing many comparisons to Rafa Castillo and even comparisons to Messi.
Cristian’s comparison to Messi might sound excessive but a closer look makes the point valid. Besides the similarity in physical stature, Cristian plays aggressive with the ball close to feet, can make sharp cuts leaving defenders out of their boots and made some fantastic and timely passes. Crisitan connected well with Ever Guzman and Billy Forbes several times. Some of Crisitan’s dribbles drew some ooh’s and ahh’s. SAFC head coach Darren Powell in the post match interview said ” Tonight, we saw glimpses of what he is capable of doing, we’re fortunate we see him practice everyday”
Keep in mind, Cristian is still a young man, with much on his plate. He is adjusting to a new club in a new country thousands of miles from home. Cristian seems to be adjusting well and with support from his teammates and staff, Cristian will get comfortable being in the states and his impressive talent will continue to grow, With SAFC’s talented and experienced Midfield Corps, it will be interesting to see how Darren Powell will work Parano into getting minutes and the starting XI.