Image: Steve Aibel, Pitch Black News/Little Orca Sports
San Antonio FC drew Oklahoma City Energy FC 0-0 Saturday night in a lively, exciting display the scoreline doesn’t quite reflect.
Taylor Morgan made his debut for SAFC as part of the starting lineup. He showed an ability to hold up play and a willingness to work hard on the flanks and provide service for his teammates before being substituted for Franck Tayou at the start of the second half.
“It was a solid performance and (our) guys need to take that point and move on,” SAFC head coach Darren Powell said. “It could be a very valuable point, seeing how close this league is.”
The game began evenly with both sides getting a share of play in the first half. Energy FC controlled more of the game’s flow early on, but SAFC found the better chances, including a free kick from Rafa Castillo and volley by debutant Taylor Morgan sent either side of goal.
SAFC had a flurry of chances midway through the half, the best coming in the 25th minute as a feisty scrum in the 18-yard box included multiple players going down and multiple shots being blocked or barely preempted because of tackles.
In subsequent chances, SAFC either couldn’t quite find the target or Energy FC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi was able to make a save. Energy FC exerted a bit more pressure toward the end of the half and created a few dangerous chances, but the push was ultimately nothing too worrisome as halftime approached and arrived.
The teams may have switched sides for the second half, but it felt much like the first early on with both sides having a share of play and SAFC getting the better chances. Additionally, SAFC exerted more of the pressure from the start this time around.
The match flared up in the 68th minute following an Energy FC throw-in. SAFC’s Josh Ford was given a straight red card, the first for SAFC in their history, after shoving Energy FC’s Danni Konig, who Ford thought fouled him as he went up to catch the ball sent into the box. Energy FC’s Michael Thomas was also sent off in the bust-up that brought players from all over the field – and even both teams’ coaches – to the scene of the incident.
First of all I want to apologize to my teammates and the fans for my actions tonight. As the captain I need to keep my head and be better.
— Joshua Ford (@fordj29) July 10, 2016
Despite the delay required to restore order, SAFC resumed exerting pressure in the Energy FC half, but the visitors’ defense held strong. Both head coaches threw on one substitute after another to try and squeeze a goal out of the tight defensive game, but there was no return on the investments.
SAFC had one more dangerous chance in stoppage time as Franck Tayou headed the ball off the post from a corner kick. Sam McBride nearly turned the ball in just after coming on but Energy FC’s defense again repelled the ball. Despite coming close all night, the ball was never able to find the back of the net for either team.
“We pulled it together really well (after the red card)…but we had several chances in the first half and unfortunately, we couldn’t put them in the back of the net,” SAFC forward Jason Johnson said
The draw snapped SAFC’s three-game winning streak, but they continued what is now a five-game unbeaten streak. They now face two home games against Vancouver Whitecaps 2 and Los Angeles Galaxy II, who are first and second place in the western conference respectively. Those matches will be even more challenging without the incredible goalkeeping and leadership of team captain Josh Ford, who will likely miss multiple games after his sending off.
(To view the disciplinary incident that led to Ford and Thomas’ ejections, click here.)
Final: San Antonio FC 0-0 Oklahoma City Energy FC
SAFC Starting XI (4-1-4-1): Ford (c); Milton Palacios, McCarthy (McBride 90’), Bradnock-Brennan, Cochrane; Salazar (Thuriere 88’); Castillo, Reed, Alvarez (Okiomah 83’), Johnson (Cardone 72’); Morgan (Tayou 60’)
Substitues not used: Gunderson, Garcia
SAFC Discipline: Yellow card, Taylor Morgan (4th this season, 1st for SAFC); Red card, Josh Ford (1st this seaon)
SAFC Official Man of the Match: Stephen McCarthy