Image: Darren Abate, USL
San Antonio FC lost 2-1 to Swope Park Rangers on Saturday night at Toyota Field, missing a good opportunity to get their season back on track and seeing their current losing streak extend to four matches and winning four in a row just a few weeks ago.
“Momentum’s a big thing in soccer,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell. “We had some good momentum going into a couple of away games and now we’ve lost that; now we’ve just got to respond.”
Whether it was due to the busy schedule or trying to adjust the team after a 4-0 demolition at the hands of Phoenix Rising FC, SAFC made a couple changes, most notably at the back. Matt Cardone started in goal – whether that’s just regular rotation or he has become the first-choice goalkeeper is up in the air – and Ryan Felix got his first start in defense since June 23.
With or without the ball, Swope put the pressure on early and found their reward in the sixth minute off a corner kick. The ball was swung in to the far post where defender Graham Smith headed it back across, setting up an easy tap in for forward Hadji Barry.
SAFC stepped up the pressure after conceding, but it didn’t last and Swope doubled their lead in the 25th minute. Similar to the first goal, defender Amer Didic headed the ball into the ground and over the line off a free kick swung in by midfielder Felipe Hernandez. Saturday was the fourth match in a row SAFC conceded two or more goals.
SAFC’s only shot on goal in the first half came off of a tidy turn and shot by defender Cyprian Hedrick in the 13th minute, but it was saved well by Swope goalkeeper Erioc Dick.
SAFC found a foothold at the start of the second half and halved the deficit in the 54th minute. After an initial attack crumbled, defender Darnell King found the ball at his feet and rifled it into the top corner to give SAFC a glimmer of hope.
SAFC continued to apply the pressure and accrued 16 shots in the second half alone, plus a few shots which went begging. For all the chances though, they weren’t able to convert one into an equalizer, much less go on and win the match.
“It sucks that we start playing our best when we go down,” said SAFC midfielder Mikey Lopez. “I think if we get that mentality from the (start), I don’t think any team can stop us. We did show resiliency today but at the end of the day it didn’t really count for much because we still didn’t get any points.”
SAFC will play their third match in eight days on Wednesday when they travel to Rio Grande Valley FC for the second installment of the South Texas Derby, the first this season ending in a scoreless draw. While RGVFC is struggling this season, the same could have been said about Seattle Sounders FC 2 before they deservedly defeated SAFC 3-2 two weeks ago.