Image: L.E. Baskow, Las Vegas Lights FC
Facing their second unfamiliar opponent in a row, San Antonio FC defeated Las Vegas Lights FC 3-1 on Friday night at Cashman Field for their second win of the 2018 season and first on the road.
The result was also Lights FC’s first competitive loss in franchise history in their fifth match.
“It’s always good to earn the first win on the road and to do so against a previously unbeaten team is even better,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell. “It’s a tough venue to play in but full credit to the players for their effort and character.”
SAFC opened the scoring in a match for the first time this season in the 17th minute. A quick counter attack culminated in midfielder Sonny Guadarrama playing the ball across the 18-yard box for forward Ever Guzman to tap in, the first time the reunited teammates have linked up in an official match. Guadarrama assisted Guzman three times in SAFC’s 2018 preseason. The goal was also SAFC’s first since April 7, a 1-1 draw at home against Swope Park Rangers.
Guzman was substituted off just three minutes later after injuring himself sometime surrounding the goal. Forward Alex Bruce replaced him for his second appearance for SAFC, both of which have been on the road.
Midfielder Jose Escalante doubled SAFC’s lead in almost double the time, scoring his first goal of the season in the 33rd minute. Defender Darnell King flew up the right side of the field and crossed the ball into the 18-yard box where Escalante brought it down and found space to fire a shot which was deflected by a Lights defender but trickled in nonetheless.
Things got even better for SAFC in the 50th minute as Escalante earned a penalty kick after being tripped following some fancy footwork on the Lights FC endline. Midfielder Rafa Castillo stepped up to slot the penalty into the corner of the net as Lights FC goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño considered diving either way and ultimately dove neither way.
“We knew that the goals would eventually come and we’re happy that we managed to score three,” Escalante said. “Now we want to build on this as we go back to play at home.”
SAFC’s night was soured slightly as Las Vegas notched a goal in the 75th minute through midfielder Carlos Alvarez – SAFC’s first ever signing back in 2016. Midfield partner Jorge Guillen-Torres’ shot bounced around in the box and Alvarez poked it into the net after controlling it to deny SAFC a third straight clean sheet on the road.
A comeback was not on however as SAFC held onto their two-goal lead and three points for the win. SAFC has won and drawn two matches apiece against new opponents since the start of 2017, and their all-time record against unfamiliar foes is six wins, five losses and seven draws.
“I love this club and this city, and these things motivate me to keep going on this path,” Castillo said. “We’re just getting started and this is a win that we want to build on.”
Friday’s match was the first time SAFC had scored three or more goals on the road in almost a year, having last done so on April 28, 2017 in a 4-0 defeat of Portland Timbers 2.
SAFC now returns to Texas for almost an entire month as they host Fresno FC, travel to Rio Grande Valley FC and host Tulsa Roughnecks FC the next three weekends. The club will then return to Nevada to face Reno 1868 FC on May 26.