This is the ultimate question, and no the answer isn’t 42, why is this team so bad on the road? But with only four wins at home the team isn’t exactly making Toyota Field a fortress. So to look in to this matter we can look at a few crucial stats, I collated the last four away matches and compared them to the four home wins in five stats: aerial duels, possession, pass success rate, conversion rate and tackle success rate.
Aerial Duels: 47.575% v 54.35%
This one is actually better on the road, with the team winning 54.35 percent of its aerial duels on the road, on the surface this is great news. There’s certainly good in this statistic but underlying it is an issue where San Antonio is playing the ball more in the air, creating more aerial duels and while the team is winning over half of them they’re not keeping the possession for long periods, which leads nicely in to…
Possession: 54% v 54.5%
Possession, at 54 percent at home is a little disappointing as the team should hold more possession where they are comfortable. While the team holds a little more possession on the road, that’s not necessarily the best thing, in modern football possession doesn’t matter as much as used to what matters more is things like the next stat.
Pass Success Rate: 80.45% v 80.3%
This is a significant part of being able to create chances, if your passing isn’t connecting then you’re not going to be able to create chances. Thankfully for SAFC this stat has been heading in the right direction in recent road losses and is promising going forward, however it is marginally better at home and is a lot worse in the opposition half on the road. That last part needs to change if San Antonio is going to succeed away from home but the most damaging stats are still to come.
Conversion Rate: 16.7% v 12.35%
This is where things start to look really bad on the road for SAFC, a greater than four percent difference between conversion at home and on the road is pretty big in a league where conversion rates tend to be on the low side. At home 16.7 percent isn’t a bad number in the USL Championship but converting just 12.35 percent of chances on the road isn’t going to be good enough, especially when giving up so many chances to your opponents. That said, coming here to read “San Antonio FC isn’t scoring away from home” isn’t exactly the big statistical revelation that you’ve come here for.
Tackle Success Rate: 59.05% v 53.975%
This is where the biggest difference between the two is seen and the most crucial in the results on the road. For whatever reason the team is not completing its tackles on the road, in fact the tackling is over nine percent (five percentage points) worse on the road than it is at home. Sure San Antonio isn’t scoring on the road, sure their crossing is bad but that’s the same both home and away. This stat is perhaps the biggest key to the differences between how the team is going at home and away. Missing more tackles is creating more opportunities, which is resulting in more unmarked players and thus more goals, leading to more losses. In this kind of situation it’s not just that tackles are being missed but where they are, if your six percent is coming in your opponent’s half then that’s not a huge deal, but here it’s typically in the SAFC half, maybe not the final third (although there’s been plenty of that) but enough to create the space to launch a chance that is too often resulting in goals.
That the tackling is the issue is perhaps the most disappointing thing about the season so far. San Antonio has been a team that has prided itself on its phenomenal defense over the years but that is nowhere to be found this year. Previously the team’s scoring struggles wouldn’t be so exposed but this year with a defense missing some leadership and experience that has caught out the team and pushed the club to unexpected lows.