Image: Darren Abate, USL
San Antonio FC scored two late goals to defeat Portland Timbers 2 by a score of 2-1 at Toyota Field on Saturday night.
“We said before the match it could take until the 89th minute…and we just have to keep going and keep believing in what we do,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell. “I’m just very proud of our players to show that character and that grit and determination.”
After losing for the first time in over a month when they fell 2-1 away to Reno 1868 FC on May 26, SAFC switched to a 3-4-3 formation, though they made no major personnel changes. Portland, who is third place in the United Soccer League Western Conference standings, came with an allegedly weakened lineup according to Kevin McCamish of Play the Kids, a podcast covering Timbers 2.
For whatever reason – the tactical change, the weakened Portland lineup, just a more aggressive mentality – SAFC dominated early even more than usual and spent most of the first half in Portland’s half, outpossessing them with 69.7 percent and outpassing them 274-123. For all their efforts though, they found a return all too similar for this season: zero goals.
Punctuating SAFC’s inability to convert dominance into goals in the second half, Portland opened the scoring in the 50th minute. Forward Augustine Williams converted the penalty kick he had earned when SAFC defender Darnell King brought him down in the 18-yard box.
King also received a yellow card for the foul, earning him a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation. He will be sidelined for SAFC’s next USL match, when they host Sacramento Republic FC on June 16.
SAFC kept hammering away at Portland and just as it looked like their efforts and dominance would go unrewarded and lead to dropped points yet again, they found the scoring touch in the 86th minute. King played a ball in to forward Omar Gordon, who made some space for himself, turned and fired into the bottom right corner for his third goal in as many USL matches.
The equalizer boosted SAFC’s energy and they pushed for a winning goal, which they found in extra time. A missed chance at a clearance from Portland allowed forward Alex Bruce to turn and fire into the bottom right corner, almost exactly like Gordon had minutes earlier.
“Going down 1-0, we just decided not to put our head down and just keep going and get a goal back and then keep pushing and obviously we did and we got the winner at the end,” Bruce said.
The win was SAFC’s first in USL action in almost a month, when they defeated Fresno FC 2-1, and the winning goal that night was just a fortunate deflection off of the Fresno goalkeeper. Because of that, Saturday was the first time since a 3-1 win away to Las Vegas Lights FC on April 27 that SAFC had scored at least two goals of their own in a single league match.
Up ahead for SAFC is a matchup with FC Dallas in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Wednesday, the first time SAFC will host an MLS club at Toyota Field. Besides that, they have two weeks before hosting Sacramento in their next USL match, providing them a chance to regroup and prepare to move up the USL West standings.