Image: Darren Abate, USL
San Antonio FC drew 1-1 with Oklahoma City Energy FC on Friday night in front of a sellout home crowd at Toyota Field and national television audience on ESPNU.
The two sides are no strangers to drawing when they square off. Now four of the five times the teams have ever met, the points have been shared, and SAFC still has yet to beat their regional rivals. Neither side has ever scored more than one goal in a match against the other.
“We got a goal, we could’ve gone on and got the second goal (but) we didn’t, and you always leave yourself vulnerable at 1-0,” SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell said. “It can go either way at any moment and goals change games.”
Both sides got forward repeatedly in the opening stages, but it took until the 21st minute for Energy FC forward Alex Dixon to get the first shot on target. Midfielder Rafa Castillo got SAFC’s first attempt on target three minutes later off of a free kick.
Defender Sebastien Ibeagha had one of SAFC’s better chances of the first half off a free kick in the 30th minute. Castillo lofted the set piece into the box and Ibeagha snuck in unmarked to prod the shot toward goal from close range, but Energy FC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi turned the ball behind for a corner.
SAFC began the second half with more pep in their step and found the opening goal in the 52nd minute, courtesy of a quick counter. Goalkeeper Diego Restrepo lobbed the ball down the right flank for midfielder Devin Vega to run onto, and Vega found midfield partner Billy Forbes racing up the center of the field. Forbes evaded an Energy FC defender and fired past Laurendi for his team-leading seventh goal and first since April 28 at Portland Timbers 2.
Oklahoma City pressed again and again for the equalizer as time ticked away. Midfielder Miguel Gonzalez had a good chance in the 67th minute as he curled a shot toward the top right corner of the goal and forced Restrepo into a leaping save.
Energy FC had another chance in the 85th minute off of a penalty kick, which was awarded only after the video assistant referee double-checked the play and spotted a handball by SAFC defender Cyprian Hedrick. Coady Andrews stepped up to the spot but sent his spot-kick off the crossbar.
The visitors finally grabbed an equalizer and stole a point on the road in second-half stoppage time. After multiple shots were repelled by the SAFC defense, Gonzalez sent the ball into the net off an overhead kick. SAFC has now conceded a goal in four straight USL matches.
“Obviously, it hurts, it feels like a loss right now because (the equalizer) was in injury time,” SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell said.
SAFC will remain at Toyota Field next week for a top-of-the-table clash with Real Monarchs SLC. The July 22 matchup has been more and more highly anticipated as the clubs both went on impressive runs to start the 2017 season and race ahead of their Western Conference counterparts.
“Our next league game is going to be a big one,” Vega said. “We’ve been looking forward to this game and I know they have too.”
SAFC Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Diego Restrepo; Cyprian Hedrick, Sebastien Ibeagha, Stephen McCarthy (Mark O’Ojong 82’), Greg Cochrane; Rafa Castillo, Michael Reed(c); Kris Tyrpak, Devin Vega (Maxi Rodriguez 90’), Billy Forbes; Akwafei Ajeakwa (Victor Araujo 72’)
Substitutes not used: Johnston, Roushandel, Elizondo, Hassan
SAFC Discipline: N/A