Image: San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC drew 1-1 away to Sacramento Republic FC at Bonney Field on Saturday night. This was the first ever meeting between the two clubs and the only one in the United Soccer League regular season this year.
Josh Ford regained his starting goalkeeper position and the captain’s armband after being sent off and subsequently suspended for an altercation in the July 9 game against Oklahoma City Energy FC. Matt Cardone started the previous three games for SAFC in which he conceded five goals, nabbed the club’s first ever penalty kick save and recorded a club-record nine saves in a single game.
Sacramento controlled possession and the tempo of the game early on. Despite a few dangerous attacking moves though, SAFC’s defense was able to clean things up and keep Ford from a busy first few minutes back in net.
Despite the hold Sacramento had on the game early on, it was SAFC who opened the scoring. After the ball was laid off to him by Rafa Castillo, Sebastien Thuriere ripped a shot toward goal from the top of the 18-yard box. Republic FC goalkeeper Evan Newton got his body behind it but couldn’t hold on, allowing Cesar Elizondo to tap the ball in for an early 1-0 lead.
The hosts continued to edge control over the flow of the game, but the opening stages remained Sacramento’s most worrying period of the first half. Despite a couple of dangerous chances for both teams, SAFC’s one-goal lead persisted until the halftime whistle.
Not much changed at the start of the second half as the sides both had isolated moments of promise, though Sacramento found the ball at their feet more often.
The game was broken up for various reasons in the latter stages. Milton Palacios went down with an injury multiple times and was ultimately stretchered off in the 76th minute wearing a neck brace. SAFC said Palacios’ injury was undetermined and he had been taken to UC Davis Medical Center for further evaluation.
Neither team was able to maintain much momentum as the game continued to be broken up by fouls. Both sides received bookings for their overly physical or petulant antics.
Sacramento snatched a late equalizer in second half stoppage time after Max Gunderson was determined to have committed a foul on James Kiffe in the box, conceding a penalty kick. Despite Ford getting a piece of the spot-kick, Octavio Guzman’s shot trickled into the net.
Republic FC pressed hard for a game-winner in the remaining minutes but was unable to turn SAFC’s early lead on its head as Swope Park Rangers had last week. SAFC held on to share the points with Sacramento in the first ever meeting between the teams.
SAFC will feel unlucky to drop two points late, but the outcome can’t be changed and the point earned could prove to be important. Ford marked his return to the SAFC lineup with a number of crucial saves, despite letting the penalty kick sneak past him.
Another new opponent awaits SAFC as they travel to take on Arizona United SC next Saturday. SAFC will then face them again at Toyota Field just four days later. The home-and-home series looks to be an important opportunity for SAFC to pick up more points as they push for a playoff berth.
SAFC Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Josh Ford(c); Milton Palacios (Max Gunderson 77’), Stephen McCarthy, Biko Bradnock-Brennan, Greg Cochrane; Miguel Salazar, Sebastien Thuriere (Sam McBride 90’); Taylor Morgan, Rafa Castillo, Carlos Alvarez (Manolo Sanchez 88’); Cesar Elizondo
Substitutes not used: Cardone, Johnson, Tayou, Garcia
SAFC Discipline: Yellow card, Stephen McCarthy (4th of the season), Carlos Alvarez (3rd of the season), Miguel Salazar (2nd of the season)
SAFC Official Man of the Match: Cesar Elizondo