Image: OKC Energy FC
San Antonio FC came from behind to beat Oklahoma City Energy FC 2-1 at Taft Stadium on Saturday night. It was SAFC’s first win in the fixture in nine attempts, and they have now beaten every team in the USL Western Conference.
“I’m just extremely proud of the players’ application over the past eight days with three games and then to come to OKC and earn our first victory against (them)…and especially to show the character that we did tonight when we went a goal down and managed to get ourselves back in the game and then obviously go on and win the game,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell.
In recent weeks, SAFC has trumpeted the depth of their squad and it was tested particularly on Saturday as six players were ruled out due to injury or suspension. That and the fact SAFC was playing its third match within a week led to a number of changes in the starting lineup. Most notably, Diego Restrepo was back in goal, Mike Seth provided temporary cover at right back for the suspended Darnell King and 16-year-old midfielder Ethan Bryant started in the number 10 role once again.
The sides played an open first half but neither was able to start the scoring due mostly to disciplined defending and a couple of ambitious attacks fizzling out. OKC dictated the tempo in the opening stages before SAFC wrenched control from them.
Energy FC started the second half positively and opened the scoring in the 58th minute through a free kick. Attacking up the left, OKC won a free kick near the corner of the 18-yard box, which midfielder Philip Rasmussen curled into the top left corner of the goal.
SAFC managed to equalize from a set piece of their own in the 73rd minute though. Mikey Lopez coolly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner from the penalty spot after his midfield partner Connor Presley was brought down a minute earlier while running onto a ball and trying to sneak between two OKC defenders.
SAFC scored the decisive goal – and a historic one – less than 10 minutes later. Forward Ever Guzman redirected an incisive cross from midfielder Charlie Ward to hand SAFC the lead. It was the first time in the history of the matchup that either side had scored multiple goals in a single match.
OKC didn’t go down without a fight and gave SAFC a number of late scares. However, the visitors weathered a late onslaught and six minutes of stoppage time to hold onto the historic result.
Saturday’s match capped off a busy week for SAFC in which they picked up nine points in their first three-match win streak of the season. The run was bookended by a 4-2 win at home against Real Monarchs SLC on July 21 and Saturday’s historic 2-1 win.
“It’s a big result for us to get nine points and put us on the right track,” said SAFC defender Cyprian Hedrick. “Everybody grinded and this was a very difficult game for us, but we pulled through.”
Before an away-heavy stretch of the season, SAFC will return to Toyota Field for one match on Aug. 4 against Los Angeles Galaxy II. The two sides played to a scoreless draw at the StubHub Center earlier this season, and SAFC last hosted the Galaxy for their 2017 home opener at Toyota Field, winning 3-0.