Image: Nick Tre. Smith, Swope Park Rangers
In their fourth and final away match in a row, San Antonio FC lost 5-2 to Swope Park Rangers on Sunday afternoon at Children’s Mercy Victory Field.
This weekend was a fluke for more than just SAFC at the top of the USL Western Conference though as Real Monarchs SLC and Reno 1868 FC also came away with losses. With SAFC and Swope second and fourth in the USL West, respectively, at least one was bound to gain ground, and it ended up being Swope.
“Our guys will look at the tape from today and learn from that experience and prepare ourselves for next weekend,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell.
Swope never give SAFC an easy time at their place though and it was apparent that trend would continue from early on. SAFC defender Sebastien Ibeagha brought down Swope midfielder Christian Duke inside the 18-yard box in the 10th minute, paving the way for forward Nansel Selbol to put the hosts up from the penalty spot one minute later.
It wasn’t long before SAFC evened the match up though. Billy Forbes, initially deployed on the right side for a change, swung a cross into Swope’s penalty area where midfielder Owayne Gordon brought the ball down and fired it past goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas in the 20th minute.
The sides battled back and forth for the rest of the half, and a storm of Swope chances just before halftime paid off. Midfielder Felipe Hernandez took charge of a free kick from roughly 30 yards out and didn’t disappoint, bending it around the wall and beating SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo’s outstretched hand into the bottom right corner to regain the lead for the hosts.
Momentum carried into the second half as Swope pushed SAFC back and was solid defensively on the occasions the visitors got forward. Selbol doubled Swope’s lead in the 62nd minute with a first-time finish in the middle of the box after defender Tyler Pasher got forward on the left and slid a ball across the 18-yard box.
The hosts kept their foot on the gas and made it 4-1 just three minutes later. A lobbed ball forward snuck through the SAFC defense where forward Kharlton Belmar controlled it and fired past Restrepo.
Substitutes hooked up to score Swope’s fifth and final goal in the 80th minute. Catching the SAFC defense off guard, midfielder Mark Anthony Gonzalez got forward on the left and played a ball across goal where forward Max Rugova tapped it in simply.
Forbes saw to it that SAFC went down with some style, pulling a goal back in the 85th minute. After dribbling into the box, Forbes blasted the ball into the roof of the net to remind everybody that SAFC was still present.
SAFC will hope this match was a one-off result, particularly from a defensive standpoint. SAFC hadn’t conceded more than two goals in 2017 and only ever had four or more scored on them once, in a 4-0 US Open Cup demolition at the hands of the Houston Dynamo in June 2016.
After ending their run of road games on quite a low note, SAFC can at least look forward to hosting four of their last five matches in the regular season, not to mention any they might have in the playoffs.
SAFC Starting XI (4-4-2): Diego Restrepo; Ben Newnam, Cyprian Hedrick, Sebastien Ibeagha, Greg Cochrane; Billy Forbes, Michael Reed(c), Pecka (Ryan Roushandel 69’), Owayne Gordon; Mike Seth (Cesar Elizondo 63’), Ever Guzman (Connor Presley 81’)
Substitutes not used: Johnston, Rodriguez, O’Ojong, Tyrpak
SAFC Discipline: Newnam (yellow card, 13th minute – sixth of the season), Pecka (yellow card, 45th minute – third of the season)