Image: Darren Abate, San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC defeated Club Santos Laguna of Liga MX 2-1 in a friendly on Sunday night at Toyota Field. The two sides met at the same time and place in 2017, when Santos won 4-3 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw.
“We managed to get a couple of good goals and had some good spells of soccer during the course of the match against a very quality team.,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell.
Like last year, SAFC went with a mix of regular starters and squad players looking to make their case for more playing time. Santos also played a mix of players, though that’s to be expected as they’re in the midst of preseason.
Both sides got forward often in the first half but Santos looked the better side on both sides of the ball initially. They made it show on the scoreboard in the 16th minute as Julio Furch played a ball down the right flank to his fellow man up top Djaniny, who took the ball, cut inside and powered the ball past SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo from close range.
One minute later though, SAFC was level thanks to midfielder Mike Seth heading in forward Kyle Murphy’s cross from the left side. The equalizer was indicative of how SAFC grew into the match and rose to Santos’ level as the first half wore on.
In the second 45 minutes, attacking flare became a shadow of what it was in the first half with both sides more methodical in the buildup. Perhaps the mass substitutions are to blame as SAFC made five heading into the second half and Santos switched their entire team on 60 minutes.
The lessened attacking didn’t stop SAFC from snatching a winning goal in the 80th minute off a corner though. The ball bounced around in the box and fell to forward Ever Guzman, who poked it in from a couple yards out.
“(The result) is really motivating for us moving forward,” Guzman said through a translator. “Everybody did a great job tonight…and we just raise our level from here on out.”
It’ll be all business for SAFC from here on as they have over half of their USL season still ahead of them and ground to make up in the race for a playoff space. After playing all but one match at home since the start of June, their next match comes next Saturday against Orange County SC, who beat SAFC 3-0 at Toyota Field in April.