Image: Darren Abate, USL
San Antonio FC edged Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 1-0 at Toyota Field on Wednesday night in the USL Game of the Week. The match was a stark contrast from SAFC’s 4-2 win Saturday against Real Monarchs SLC, but the result was the same: a win.
“We talked about it at halftime, one chance could win the game and that’s what happened,” said SAFC defender Darnell King. “It was a back-and-forth game (but) we executed our chances.”
Following their surprise win over Real, SAFC made a number of changes to their lineup for Wednesday’s match. most notably with goalkeeper Matt Cardone getting his second USL start of 2018, having also played July 4 against Oklahoma City Energy FC. Gianluca Cuomo was slated to play the defensive midfield position he is more familiar with but was moved back after Ryan Felix picked up an injury in warmups and his replacement Ryan Roushandel started as the lone defensive midfielder instead.
Most of the meaningful action in the first half happened in the middle third of the pitch as both sides struggled to put the pieces together in the attacking third, and the referee’s whistle often stifled the flow of things as well. SAFC led the Switchbacks in shots 6-2, though neither side put a single one on target in the first 45 minutes.
The second half began similarly tepid before SAFC midfielder Kyle Murphy sparked the match into life with a goal in the 55th minute. Midfielder Maxi Rodriguez played the ball to King on the right flank and Murphy headed King’s cross into the far corner of the net. It was Murphy’s first goal for the club but King’s team-leading fifth assist.
“Competition makes anybody better, we fight every single day (for playing time),” Murphy said. “I see the other people scoring goals (and) it makes me really high-level, I want to score goals…I think it just improves everybody.”
Switchbacks FC stepped up their game and exerted more pressure on SAFC for the remainder of the match. SAFC managed to keep their wits about them and hold the visitors at bay on both sides of the ball though, wrapping up their third pair of consecutive wins in 2018.
Prior to the postmatch fireworks show, sparks flew in second-half stoppage time. Switchbacks and former SAFC forward AJ Ajeakwa put in a strong challenge on Darnell King and was sent straight off.
“They always have a very organized squad, but we were able to limit them to very few opportunities, which we take particular pride in,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell. “Obviously the clean sheet is a bonus and the three points were a bonus too.”
SAFC will play their third match in a week on Saturday away to Oklahoma City Energy FC. The two sides played to an obligatory 1-1 draw on July 4, the seventh stalemate in eight matches so far between the two clubs.