Coming off of two hard-fought wins, San Antonio FC is continuing the push for a place in the United Soccer League playoffs.
Earning a playoff spot is ambitious for a team that didn’t exist until just before last Christmas. But San Antonio FC Managing Director Tim Holt, who spoke with the Rivard Report about the club’s season both on and off the field, is confident.
“With the format we have, the top eight teams make the playoffs,” Holt said. San Antonio FC is currently ranked number 12 in the league. “… the goal has been and continues to be the playoffs, and we see no reason why that would change.”
But Holt also is realistic about the need for change going into the rest of the season.
“Obviously, the rate at which we’re earning points is going to have to change in the latter two-thirds of the season, but we think this is a group that will get better over time as the season goes, and we want to be playing our best soccer in August and September and October,” he said.
“But with that said you need to qualify in order to be playing in October and be playing your best soccer in October. We see a lot of positive signs that aren’t always resulting in three points week in and week out, but we don’t feel we’re that far off and this stretch for us is very critical.”
As the team starts to approach the season’s halfway mark, “these are important games now” Holt said, especially since the team is on a winning uptick, gaining three points in the league standing with each victory. If they continue to win, a playoff spot will not be far out of reach.
“The three points always count the same, but they get more meaningful as you go forward,” Holt said. “We would like to be in a more advanced position in the table, but we’re not. There’s adequate time and we believe in the group that we have.”
San Antonio FC now stands undefeated in three matches, a rare run for a team that has struggled for much of the season, but Holt knows what needs to improve.
“It’s no secret that we’ve struggled to put the ball in the back of the net this season so far, so it creates a little bit of momentum,” he said, “but we’re still going to need to produce more offensively game in and game out, especially at home, if we’re going to meet our goals this season.”
A number of San Antonio goals have come from players who are not strikers, so picking up two strikers has been a focus of San Antonio FC’s mid-season recruitment. Those two strikers will boost the striker stocks of the team, but also act as injury cover for San Antonio’s two injured front men: Victor Araujo and Shawn Chin.
“We’re constantly looking for ways we can strengthen the group,” Holt said. “That’s in all areas of the field. I think we’re a team that’s going to get goals from different players in different positions and different situations, rather than just one way. Like probably everyone else in the league, we’re always looking at ways we can strengthen the group and try new things.”
One fan favorite, Bobby Moseley, recently left the club after Stoke City decided not to renew his contract. That disappointed fans, but Holt was keen to move forward, and is understanding of Moseley’s situation.
“I wouldn’t use the term disappointing, but obviously (Moseley) was very productive for us and was a huge contributor for us, not only minutes in the game, but also quality minutes and the type of reliable play that we got from him,” Holt said. “We originally envisioned that we would have him for the entirety of the season, (but) his situation changed contractually with Stoke. That put him in a situation where he needed to determine what he was going to pursue next.
“This is an important window for (Moseley), he’s a talented young player and believes his long term future lies in England, and it made the most sense for him to explore finding a club there, which we completely support. You hate to not have a guy like that part of your group going forward, but who knows what will happen going forward.”
Fans were excited to see that San Antonio FC had managed to attract a player on a Premier League squad like Moseley. That’s a route that Holt suggested the team go down again.
“You use all the different networks and resources that you can.” he said. “You want to make sure that someone fits your group and what you’re trying to do. We had that with Bobby, but that certainly is a way we can augment the core of the roster that we have here and will want to have going forward.”
Off the pitch, the focus is clear for Holt.
“Most of it is just trying to build a fan base in this market,” he said. “It’s a brick-by-brick type process. You get moments within a season that are ways you can move the sticks. Otherwise it’s not a glamorous process, everything we’re doing this season is building a foundation for future seasons. But with that we want to produce at the highest level both on and off the field for this season.”
Another big focus for the team is working on city partnerships.
“We’re trying to get out there, and make our brand visible, like we recently did that Copa America watch party downtown with Centro,” Holt said. “A lot of our focus is just on building – foundation building and fan support building. We want to be wherever it makes sense to be finding ways to be around the sport. A lot of people at that (Copa America) event were national team fans, but didn’t know who we were, so we’ll partner with the City and the County and wherever it makes sense for us to do so.”
Mexican teams Club de Fútbol América S.A. de C.V. and Santos Laguna will face off at the Alamodome on Saturday, July 9, the same day as San Antonio FC’s next home match. While many fans are disappointed by the match overlap, Holt is not.
“I don’t have any feelings about it really, I’m just focused on what we’re doing July 9,” he said. “In a city like San Antonio, there’s going to be soccer and it’s not always going to be soccer that you’re promoting.”
It is clear there’s still plenty of work for Holt and San Antonio FC to do, but Holt’s realism about the matter is encouraging. With his experience at the league office and with Orlando City SC where he was Vice President of Development during their transition to MLS, Holt will likely not be daunted by the work that is needed to be done to propel San Antonio FC forward.
Top image: Managing Director Tim Holt speaks about the potential the San Antonio FC brings to the city. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone