Image: Darren Abate, San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC drew the Tulsa Roughnecks 1-1 in a preseason friendly on Saturday afternoon at Toyota Field.
SAFC started on the front foot and got forward early and often. The full backs and wingers in particular combined well to send in chance after chance, though Tulsa’s defense was able to repel them at first.
It also didn’t take long for players on both sides to rediscover their (perhaps overly) fierce, competitive spirits. Tough challenges flew in, tempers flared and Tulsa received two yellow cards. After a few heated incidents, the players calmed down and carried out the rest of the first half with more discipline.
SAFC’s proactivity finally paid off in the 24th minute via winger Billy Forbes. After Tulsa managed to keep SAFC at bay on a few attacks, the ball fell to Forbes and his shot took a deflection and found its way past Roughnecks goalkeeper Bryan Byers, causing raucous cheers to echo around Toyota Field once again.
“My goal was basically (just) I got the ball inside the box and I tried to shoot it and it goes in – nothing really special,” Forbes said of his deflected effort.
The Roughnecks would go on to equalize just six minutes later though as their captain and midfielder Juan Caffa sent in a free kick which Jaime Ayala headed into the net. Tulsa continued to get forward in the latter stages of the first half, but SAFC’s defense didn’t give them enough of an opening to snatch the lead.
Flaring tempers returned early in the second half, prompting scenes of angry confrontations between converging players to return. This time though, SAFC midfielder Rafa Castillo let anger get the better of him and was sent off in the 50th minute after an altercation, forcing SAFC to play with 10 men for the rest of the match.
Both sides looked capable of finding a go-ahead goal, but neither could quite put all the pieces together. SAFC in particular had multiple chances in the last handful of minutes, but through balls left a few would-be goalscorers with a bit too much to do.
The play of SAFC’s attack-minded midfielders was prominently on display in the match. Forbes in particular showed his skill often both out on the wings and cutting inside, while midfielder Devin Vega impressed with his agility and close control after he came on.
“We see the progress, we’re happy with the progress, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell said after the match.
SAFC will conclude their preseason on March 19 in Frisco, Texas, against the FC Dallas Reserves. Their United Soccer League season begins with the christening of HEB Park in the Rio Grande Valley against their rival RGVFC on March 26, while they’ll make their home debut April 1 against Los Angeles Galaxy II.
SAFC Starting XI (4-5-1): Matt Cardone; Ben Newnam, Sebastien Ibeagha, Cyprian Hedrick (Stephen McCarthy 45’), Greg Cochrane; A’kwafei Ajeakwa, Michael Reed (Juan Nino 63’), Pecka (Miguel Salazar 58’), Rafa Castillo, Billy Forbes (Maxi Rodriguez 86’); Cesar Elizondo (Aly Alberto Hassan 71’)
Substitutes not used: Johnston, Restrepo, McFarlane, Roushandel, three trialists (two defenders, one midfielder)
SAFC Discipline: Pecka (yellow card 46’), Rafa Castillo (red card 50’)