Image: Darren Abate, USL
San Antonio FC started the second half of their season on the right foot with a 4-2 win over top-of-the-table Real Monarchs SLC on Saturday night at Toyota Field. It was just the third time in SAFC’s history they’ve scored four goals in a league match, the other two being in April 2017.
“Today’s a good example of what we can produce (offensively),” said SAFC midfielder Mikey Lopez. “Unfortunately we haven’t been able to show that throughout the season but hopefully today will open up the floodgates for us and we’ll keep scoring goals.”
SAFC continued to tweak their lineup looking for more consistent results, most notably handing Stephen McCarthy his first league start of the season in the center of defense. Midfielder Omar Gordon returned after missing his first USL match in over two months last week, and Ethan Bryant also started the match positioned as SAFC’s playmaker.
It took just 32 seconds – a new record – for SAFC to get on the scoreboard, albeit through an own goal. Gordon latched onto a tidy chip from Bryant and his shot deflected off of defender Michael Gallagher to give the hosts a very early lead.
While SAFC had more going forward in the first half, Real showed their quality on a few occasions and found their equalizer in the 16th minute. Clever footwork from midfielder Sebastian Velasquez saw him sliver along the endline and ultimately find space to fire a shot toward SAFC’s goal which went in despite an attempt to deflect it out.
SAFC went ahead again in the 27th minute as Gordon finished off a move and this time got his own name on the scoresheet instead of an opponent’s. After a cross from midfielder Connor Presley was half-cleared, Gordon collected the ball and rifled it into the net to restore SAFC’s lead.
SAFC was one step ahead of Real on multiple occasions in the 56th minute as they doubled their lead through a slick passage of play. Lopez beat Real goalkeeper Jake Leeker to a ball sent up the right flank and played it across to forward Ever Guzman, who deftly spun away from his defender and walked the ball into the net.
Real managed to claw the deficit back to one goal with a well-executed attack of their own in the 61st minute. Defender Kalen Ryden ran at the SAFC defense and cut a ball back to Velasquez, who poked the ball in for his second goal on the night.
SAFC reestablished their lead and finished the scoring in the 68th minute though with a free kick near the left corner of the 18-yard box. Midfielder Charlie Ward stood over the set piece and curled it expertly into the top corner to seal the win for SAFC.
“What we feel as a (team) every week is that we can compete with anybody in the league and tonight we were able to prove that against a team that’s in first place,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell. “Now it’s a matter of regrouping and getting ready for Wednesday night and making sure we continue with top-level performances.”
In that quick turnaround Powell mentioned, SAFC will host Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, who they’ve drawn with 1-1 twice already in 2018, once in Colorado in USL play and once at home in the US Open Cup when SAFC prevailed 5-3 in a penalty kick shootout. After that, SAFC will visit regional rival and nemesis Oklahoma City Energy FC on July 28 for each team’s third match within a week.