Image: Darren Abate

San Antonio FC defeated Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 5-3 in a penalty kick shootout after a 1-1 draw in the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup at Toyota Field on Wednesday.

As one would expect, SAFC went with a mixed starting lineup, most notably giving 16-year-old midfielder Ethan Bryant his first SAFC appearance. Bryant, along with defenders Cyprian Hedrick and Stephen McCarthy and midfielder Gianluca Cuomo made their first home appearances of the season. Mike Seth also played up top after serving as an auxiliary left back on multiple occasions this season.

“We have a good squad, a lot of players that come in every day,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell. “We know they’re all more than capable and just waiting for those opportunities – tonight was one of those.”

SAFC started the match on the front foot and was ahead in just the eighth minute as midfielder Rafa Castillo calmly converted a penalty. A minute earlier, Bryant drew the spot-kick when he brought down a ball into the box and a Switchbacks player handled it.

Like in the second round of the Open Cup, SAFC was again under pressure after taking the lead, but this time their opponents’ aggression paid off. Switchbacks forward Tobenna Uzo headed in off a corner in the 27th minute to tie the match at one goal apiece, and the visitors continued to put SAFC under the same pressure in search of another goal.

Both sides found chances in the second half and extra time, but neither was able to find a winning goal. SAFC came out with renewed energy after each restart before the Switchbacks ultimately took control.

The first half of extra time saw perhaps the best chance of the match: a Switchbacks attacker found himself one-on-one with SAFC goalkeeper Matt Cardone in the 100th minute and snuck the ball past SAFC’s netminder, but it trickled just wide.

With the sides still tied after 120 minutes, they convened at midfield for a penalty kick shootout. Each team made their first three attempts, but the Switchbacks’ Uriel Macias sent their fourth over the crossbar before Mikey Lopez scored SAFC’s fifth to finish it off. It was the first PK shootout SAFC has ever won in three competitive attempts, four if you include an international friendly.

“I’m happy to make my debut, happy the coaches believe in me and put me in there, but most importantly, I’m happy with the team performance,” Bryant said. “If you look in the locker room, every guy is huffing and puffing because we laid it all on the line…survive and advance, we got that done tonight.”

SAFC will learn their next Open Cup opponent when the fourth round draw is made Thursday morning. Next up for SAFC is their first trip out of Texas in a month, returning to Nevada to visit Reno 1868 FC on Saturday.

Posted by J. Check

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