Image: Robin Jerstad, San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC came from behind to draw Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 1-1 on Friday night at Toyota Field to maintain their undefeated start to the 2017 United Soccer League season.
SAFC came up against a stern defense from the Switchbacks, who managed to keep SAFC at bay and prevent them from finding many dangerous chances on the night. With 61.4% of possession and nine corners to the Switchbacks’ two, SAFC may believe they should’ve gotten more out of the match.
“I was impressed by the way (the Switchbacks) set themselves up; it made it very hard for us to break (them) down,” SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell said. “I was just very proud of our guys that they never gave up and kept going and kept plugging away to try to get that equalizer.”
The Switchbacks would get on the board first as forward Aaron King capitalized off of a ball headed forward by midfielder Kim Tae-Seong in the 12th minute. SAFC defender Stephen McCarthy momentarily lost track of King and and goalkeeper Matt Cardone was unable to prevent the ball being slid past him and into the corner of the net for SAFC’s first goal conceded this season.
The goal seemed to inspire the Switchbacks and they would continue to get forward looking for a quick second. However, SAFC managed to absorb the pressure and regained a larger stake in the game before long.
SAFC’s best chance of the first half came in the 39th minute off of a quick counter. Midfielder Billy Forbes ran up the right with the ball at his feet and found Rafa Castillo bursting forward from midfield, but the chance fizzled out with the latter taking too many touches and getting closed down. Just two minutes later, midfielder Kris Tyrpak sent the ball over from a few yards out after the ball came off a few heads and fell to him.
SAFC wasted little time trying to level the game once the second half started. After an SAFC corner was cleared in the 50th minute, midfielder Pecka lofted the ball back in and defender Sebastien Ibeagha solidly headed it toward goal, but Switchbacks goalkeeper Dan Jackson nabbed the ball in time.
SAFC would finally get their equalizer in the 79th minute though. Forward Shawn Chin switched play from the left of the field to the right and found Kris Tyrpak, who controlled the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and volleyed an effort which swerved into the far top corner past Jackson to tie the game 1-1.
Just as the Switchbacks were buoyed by their goal earlier, SAFC pushed a bit harder for a game-winner in the final minutes, but neither side was able to snatch all the points.
“We were hitting so many shots…one was bound to go in,” Tyrpak said. “We had multiple opportunities to put the game away and it just shows the resilience that we have as a team and hopefully we can continue that throughout the season.”
San Antonio native Maxi Rodriguez was handed his first professional start in place of midfielder and usual captain Michael Reed, who was rested for the night. In the 61st minute, Rodriguez made way for Devin Vega, another San Antonio native, to make his professional debut. Aly Alberto Hassan also came on for his SAFC debut in the 83rd minute.
SAFC will close out a three-game home stretch Saturday April 15 against Reno 1868 FC in the first ever meeting between the two clubs.
SAFC Starting XI (4-1-4-1): Matt Cardone; Ben Newnam, Sebastien Ibeagha, Stephen McCarthy (Aly Hassan 83’), Greg Cochrane; Pecka; Kris Tyrpak, Maxi Rodriguez (Devin Vega 61’), Rafa Castillo, Billy Forbes (Shawn Chin 72’); Cesar Elizondo
Substitutes not used: Restrepo, Roushandel, Nino, Ajeakwa
SAFC Discipline: Sebastien Ibeagha (yellow card, 66’ – first of the season), Stephen McCarthy (yellow card, 69’ – second of the season), Ben Newnam (yellow card, 83’ – first of the season)