Image: Jonathan Check, Two Ten Soccer
San Antonio FC beat Midland-Odessa Sockers FC 4-0 on Wednesday night at Grande Communications Stadium in the second round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, advancing to the third round.
SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell made a host of changes for Wednesday’s match, bringing in six players for their first starts of the season. Only midfielders Jose Escalante and Mikey Lopez found familiar positions, while Darnell King moved forward slightly to play right midfielder.
“The players who wore the jersey tonight took their opportunities and played hard from start to finish,” Powell said. “The professionalism of the players tonight to play from the first whistle to the last whistle was evident for everybody to see.”
Sockers FC was the brighter of the sides early on, playing aggressively and having a go at SAFC. They weren’t shy about trying shots from distance, which came as no surprise after scoring two goals that way in the first round of the Open Cup on May 9 against the Lakeland Tropics.
The match gradually evened out though and SAFC found forays forward and opened the scoring in the 33rd minute. After a corner kick was repelled, SAFC built the attack again and a cross from the left landed in the six-yard box, where King headed the ball home for his first goal in an SAFC shirt.
Sockers FC continued to exert pressure and forced SAFC goalkeeper Matt Cardone into a number of saves in the second half. For all their efforts though, they couldn’t quite sneak the ball past SAFC’s defense and then Cardone.
SAFC was finding the occasional chance themselves though and finally began to capitalize and build on their lead late. Lopez scored directly from a free kick near the left corner of the 18-yard box in the 88th minute, sneaking the ball around the two-man wall and under Sockers FC goalkeeper Elliot Barker to double SAFC’s lead.
Despite having just four minutes of stoppage time in the second half, SAFC doubled their lead and made the match look more lopsided than it was. Omar Gordon played a first-time pass to his midfield partner Maxi Rodriguez at the top of the box and despite getting off a tame shot, it rolled past Barker for the 3-0 lead and Rodriguez’s first goal for SAFC since joining at the start of the 2017 season.
As Sockers FC continued to push forward and seek a consolation goal, Gordon grabbed a goal of his own after running almost the entire length of the pitch and coolly slotting the ball into the corner of the net to finish the late flood of goals.
“I thought we were the better team, but the game was close, so I just wanted to go out there and give it everything to help us put the game away,” Gordon said.
SAFC will face a familiar opponent in the third round of the Open Cup at Toyota Field on May 23 after Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC downed FC Denver 3-2, who put up a fight as they opened the scoring and leveled the match at two apiece late before succumbing to an 86th minute penalty kick.