As San Antonio FC enters seventh season of play, we’re taking time to reflect and ponder who the Best Starting XI would be. Of all the players to grace the pitch for the Alamo City Boys, which would be worthy to be part of the All Time Best XI. Some great and memorable players have come through and are currently playing for San Antonio FC. So after much thought and self debates here is the ground work for selecting the Best XI.
The formation that we are going with is the traditional 4-4-2. Players selected were based on their best individual season with SAFC. For example, we could compare the same player’s stats from one year to the next. But that player can only be selected once and the best season statistically will be chosen. All players from 2016 to 2021 on SAFC’s rosters are eligible.
Here’s our SAFC All Time Best XI, a team we believe would be a formidable opponent against anyone in the USL.
Before we get to the All Time Best XI, here are the honorable mentions, players who had great seasons and are debatable starters in our list: GK – Matt Cardone 2021, D – Darnell King 2018, MF – Jose Gallego 2021, F – Luis Solignac 2020
Goalkeeper – Diego Restrepo 2017
Diego’s 2017 season was remarkable. Part of one the best defenses in USL championship history. Restrepo was named USL Goalkeeper of the Year and was named to the 2017 USL Best XI. In 2017, Diego had a .80 Goals Against Average, 12 Clean Sheets (Seven Consecutive Clean Sheets) and 75 Saves. Third longest shutout streak in USL history with 672 minutes.
Right Back – Kortne Ford 2021
Kortne Ford came on loan from the Colorado Rapids after recovering from an injury that prevented him from playing for the better part of two seasons. Ford played in 16 matches for SAFC and don’t let his stats fool you, while Ford wasn’t top 3 in most defense categories, but projected over a 34 match season, Ford would easily be in the top 3. Ford also scored four goals adding offensive fire power for a defensive position, currently hold the record for goals from a defensive position for SAFC. Ford had 47 Clearances, 35 Interceptions, 83 Duels Won and 48 Aerial Duels Won.
Center Back – Mitch Taintor 2021
Mitch Taintor came in on loan from Sacramento Republic mid way through the 2021 season and didn’t miss a beat from his 2020 campaign. Along with Ford and Khmiri, opposing strikers had trouble scoring for much of the second half of the season. Taintor saved two shots from finding the back of the net with a goal line clearing header most notably in the playoffs versus San Diego Loyal. Taintor recorded 91 Clearances, 49 Interceptions, 110 Duels Won and 50 Aerial Dues Won.
Center Back – Sebastien Ibeagha 2017
Ibeagha appeared in 30 matches for San Antonio FC in 2017; was named to the USL All League First Team and named USL Defender of the Year. Ibeagha was a huge part of the success of the back line that featured Greg Cochrane and Cyprian Hedrick. They accomplished a 672 minute shutout streak (including 7 clean sheets in a row from April 28th to June 10th, 2017) which is currently third best all time in the USL and are eighth all time in fewest goals concede with 24 during that 2017 season. Ibeagha finished the 2017 season with a 72 percent tackle success rate, a staggering 205 clearances, 22 blocks and 56 interceptions. His 2017 success has translated to a career in the MLS with NYCFC and now LAFC where he has found continued success.
Left Back – Greg Cochrane 2017
The Iron Man. Greg Cochrane was a menace on the left side. Able to come up to final third to make vital crosses on the attack and quickly fall back on defense to shut down the left side. Was part of the historic 2017 SAFC defense that didn’t allow a goal in 672 consecutive minutes. Cochrane posted 88 Clearances, 45 Interceptions and 120 Duels Won (60.3% success rate)
Midfield – Billy Forbes 2017
Billy Forbes was dangerous on the left wing and had double digit goals in 2017 with 10 Goals and is second all time in single season record book for SAFC. Forbes also set up scoring opportunities with 9 Assists as well: which is the most assists in a single season for SAFC. Forbes was involved in 39.5% of the scoring in 2017. Lead the team with 24 Shots on Target, also led with 170 Duels Won.
Midfield – Rafa Castillo 2016
El Maestro. Rafa Castillo was captain and a beast on the pitch; commanded the midfield with the aura of a military general. We needed a captain to for the All Time Best XI and who better to lead the squad than Castillo? Rafa was, in many ways, the link from the past to present, we all know how legendary he was with winning the NASL Championship in 2014. During the inaugural year, Rafa Castillo scored 5 goals in 28 Matches, tied for most goals in 2016 with Franck “The Tank” Tayou. Castillo also posted two assists. But his leadership is the reason why Castillo lands in SAFC’s All Time XI.
Midfield – Cristian Parano 2019
El Crack. The young Argentine came to SAFC with high hopes of making a difference on the pitch and from that first friendly with El Paso in 2019, we witnessed the magic and potential that Cristian Parano had. It was slow start for Parano in the first part of the season, but Parano kept grinding, and Darren Powell kept giving him minutes to find himself. By the end of 2019 season, Parano become a USL phenom and was awarded 2019 USL Championship Young Player of the Year. Parano scored seven goals his rookie season, had a 84.1% passing accuracy, was third in Duels Won with 232, and had a tackle success rate of 78.6%. Parano would find himself in Europe just two seasons later with Portuguese First Division Side, Pacos de Ferreira on a three and half year contract.
Midfield – Marcus Epps 2021
When Marcus Epps arrived, there was much excitement for his scoring potential. He had experience in MLS with Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls and was starting to carve out a successful USL career. Come over from the now defunct Timber 2 where Epps scored 4 in the 13 matches during the 2020 shortened season. He also had 15 goals in 3 professional seasons. During 2021, he was on the right wing what Billy Forbes was on the left wing in 2017. Epps scored 7 Goals on 22 Shots on Target, tied for third with Justin Dhillon and Jose Gallegos. Second on the team with 238 Duels Won and led the team with 56 Aerial Duels Won. He scored San Antonio FC’s lone goal in the Western Conference Playoff to extend SAFC’s season to penalties against Orange County SC. Arguably one the most dynamic dribblers in SAFC history.
Forward – Nathan Fogaca 2021
Nathan Fogaca came in on loan from Coritiba in Brazil’s Serie B. Not much was know about Nathan when he came in but but he sure left his mark in club history by the end of the 2021 season. Dangerous and a threat to score every time he touched the ball. Nathan scored 11 Goals in the regular season and added 2 in the playoffs. Led with 36 Shots on Target. Nathan also added 4 Assists, 172 Duels Won and 44 Aerial Duels Won. Nathan is under contract with Coritiba under December 2022, it’s possible he could come back on loan or SAFC tries to sign him for the 2023 season.
Forward – Ever Guzman 2018
El Cheno. Came to San Antonio after a successful career in Mexico. He was part of Mexico’s U-17 World Cup Championship in 2005, scoring 5 Goals in all competitions. Ever Guzman led the team with 11 regular season goals and doubled the output of the next two goal scorers combined (Lance Laing and Omar Gordon had 5 each). Guzman accounted for 24.4% of SAFC goals in 2018. Guzman was effective distributing the ball, with a 82.2% passing accuracy and posted 3 Assists.
So there it is, San Antonio FC’s All Time Best XI. What are your thoughts, did we omit someone or did we hit the match winning goal with this one. If we were able to field this version of the team in 2022, how would you think they do? We always love to hear your thoughts. We’ll revisit the list in a year or so and see where we stand.