As we enter the new year and the 2019 USL Championship season approaches, the San Antonio FC technical staff is hard at work putting together a roster that will aim to make a playoff run and compete for titles. So far, a mix of returning and new players have been announced-- ranging from fan-favorites to former foes who are now joining the good guys. Take a look at the SAFC roster as it stands:
Ackon enters his rookie season after playing collegiate soccer at Bowling Green State University from 2017-18, after which the defender was drafted by the Chicago Fire in the third round (53rd overall) in the MLS SuperDraft prior to signing with SAFC. During his time at Bowling Green, Ackon was named to the All-MAC First Team as well as the All Ohio Team.
At just 19 years old, Parano joins the Alamo City club after coming up in Argentina through the youth ranks of an FC Barcelona affiliate in Buenos Aires and River Plate. The midfielder made his professional debut in the Argentinian first division with San Martin de San Juan in 2018, and will look to build on it with his first stint abroad.
After finishing the 2017 season as the club’s all-time leading scorer (10), Forbes returns for his second stint with the Alamo City club. During his first season with SAFC, the midfielder also recorded nine assists (currently the club record), and earned USL All-League Second Team honors, USL Team of the Week honors on four occasions, and was named the March/April Player of the Month.
Lahoud joins San Antonio FC with over 200 professional appearances over the last 10 years, during which he has amassed over 15,000 minutes at the club level and nearly 9,000 in the top flight. The midfielder spent the 2018 season with FC Cincinnati, recording 24 appearances while helping the team to a regular season championship. The 32-year-old was originally drafted by Chivas USA in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft.
Defender Johnny Fenwick concluded his collegiate career as High Point University’s most decorated men’s soccer player. Throughout his four years there, he was named an NCAA All-American, 2018 Big South Defender of the Year, and 2015 Big South Freshman of the Year, while also earning four Big South All-Conference selections, three NCCSIA All-State selections, and winning the Big South regular season championship twice. Before embarking on his journey stateside, Fenwick spent time in the Newcastle United and Sheffield Wednesday academies.
Maguraushe heads into his rookie season after an impressive collegiate career at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where he became just the second Spartan to earn All-Southern Conference hinors in all four of his playing years, during which he recorded 13 goals and 14 assists in 75 matches. The midfielder was also named the 2015 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year in 2015 and has spent time with the Seattle Sounders U-23 team.
The Canada native joins SAFC after spending time playing in Finland, where he earned 2017 Ykkonen Goalkeeper of the Year honors while leading Turun Palloseura (TPS) to promotion into the first division. In his two seasons in Finland, Viscosi recorded 25 clean sheets in 70 appearances. Competition within a squad is good, and that’s likely to be what we’ll get from the SAFC goalkeepers as Viscosi joins Cardone in Juan Lamadrid’s ranks.
The SAFC Pro Academy ETP alum returns to his hometown club after a solid rookie season. In 2018, Bryant scored one goal and recorded three assists in 10 USL appearances, and became the youngest goalscorer in club history on Sept. 9, 2018. Bryant has proven his potential time and again, from his sessions in the Elite Training Program through to his opportunities with the first team. As he enters his sophomore season as a pro, the sky is the limit for the Alamo City youngster.
The 28-year-old Mexican striker joins SAFC on loan from Liga MX side Atlas FC. Barraza has made over 70 appearances with Atlas and scored 50 goals in 208 appearances overall across stints in the first and second divisions. His most impressive season came in 2015-16 while on loan at Necaxa, where he scored 14 goals and helped lead the team to a league title and promotion to Liga MX.
Defender Joshua Yaro joins SAFC from the Philadelphia Union (MLS) and brings a mix of experience in the top flight of U.S. Soccer as well as familiarity with the USL Championship. The Ghana native recorded 41 appearances between the Union and the Bethlehem Steel overall, during which he tallied 3,204 minutes. Yaro was originally drafted in the first round (second overall) by the Union in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
Cardone will enter his fourth season with SAFC and will look to build on his accomplishments with the club after returning to a regular starting role in the second half of the 2018 season, during which he tallied 37 saves in 13 league matches. Despite missing out on most of the 2017 campaign due to a lower body injury, Cardone has shown many moments of brilliance and potential, including his 0.43 goals against average in his five matches played in 2017, as well as a league-high four penalty saves in 2016. Add to that two consecutive USL #FearTheBeard wins for the best beard in the league as icing on the cake.
An anchor in the midfield, Pecka returns for his third season with San Antonio FC. The Brazilian scored his first club goal in 2018 while amassing 47 tackles (third-most on the team) and 28 interceptions on the defensive end. He also completed an impressive 86.3 percent of his 924 passes in league play and created 15 chances in the attack.
Following the retirement of both Stephen McCarthy and Greg Cochrane, SAFC had big shoes to fill in its back line. Enter Amer Didic, a 6’4” center-back who has tallied over 6,800 minutes of USL play with Swope Park Rangers, leading the side to two USL Championship matches and earning USL All-League First Team honors in 2016. Over his three seasons with SPR, Didic took part in 27 shutouts while adding three goals. The 24-year-old also played four matches with MLS side Sporting KC in the U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
Unlocking defenses seems to be Jack Barmby’s thing. The attacking midfielder certainly did that during the 2018 season, where he created 37 chances and recorded three assists for Portland Timbers 2 while adding six goals of his own. In addition, the England native recorded 33 appearances and two goals for the Timbers first team, overall. Vision like Barmby’s with a poacher like Ever Guzman ahead of him could prove to be a lethal threat for SAFC opponents in 2019.
One of the SAFC originals, Castillo returns for his fourth season with San Antonio FC. Despite missing a large part of the 2018 season due to injury, the Colombian finished the campaign with two goals in USL play and one in the U.S. Open Cup, proving yet again his efficiency from the penalty spot. Overall, Castillo is the club’s second all-time leading scorer (11). Castillo’s leadership on and off the field will also play an important role as the 38-year-old enters his 23rd season as a professional.
San Antonio soccer fans may recognize the name. After winning the 2014 NASL Championship with the San Antonio Scorpions, Walter Restrepo returns to represent the Alamo City. Restrepo joins the SAFC ranks after spending the 2018 season in the Colombian first division. Known for his speed and skill on the dribble, the winger could prove to be an asset down the SAFC flank. Restrepo returns to the USL after spending the 2017 season with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, where he scored one goal in 13 appearances.
Forward Ever Guzman returns for his third season with SAFC as the club’s all-time leading scorer (15). Guzman impressed during the 2018 season, scoring 11 goals in the regular season and setting a new single-season scoring record for the club. A poacher through and through, Guzman’s spatial awareness and positioning make him a dangerous threat to any back line. With the likes of Laing, Restrepo, and Barmby there to feed him chances, the SAFC attack is in good hands.
A versatile defender, Kai Greene brings over 5,300 minutes of USL experience to San Antonio. The 25-year-old tallied 68 appearances in league play for South Texas rivals Rio Grande Valley FC. In 2018, Greene recorded 48 clearances, 41 interceptions, 54 tackles, and a 70 percent duels success rate, while the New Jersey native ranked second in the league in tackles won with 73 the year prior.
In the span of two years, Pascal Eboussi appeared 31 matches for Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, scoring two goals and recording 85 clearances, 44 interceptions, and 47 tackles in USL play while also appearing in four Open Cup matches for the club. Standing at an impressive 6’4”, the 20-year-old Cameroon native joins the SAFC defense after recording 49 clearances, 29 tackles, 25 interceptions, and winning over 52 percent of both his duels and aerial duels on the season.
After a quality rookie season during which he scored three goals in 13 appearances, forward Alex Bruce returns to San Antonio FC for his sophomore stint as a pro. Bruce scored a couple of key goals in 2018, most notably scoring the game-winner in stoppage time against Portland Timbers 2 at Toyota Field and a stunner against OKC Energy FC from distance that made the final of the 2018 USL Goal of the Year voting.
Few players make an impact the way Lance Laing did for SAFC in 2018. After arriving at the club on loan in August, Laing finished the season with five goals and a team-leading six assists, tying a club record along the way for most matches with both a goal and an assist (five), and achieving the feat in three consecutive matches from Aug. 29 through Sept. 8. With a full season ahead of him in the Alamo City, Laing will be one to watch in 2019.