Image: Saint Louis FC
San Antonio FC lost 2-0 away to Saint Louis FC at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night, ending a three-match away trip without a single point in their hunt for a playoff spot.
“It’s important (for us to put this behind us),” said SAFC defender Cyprian Hedrick. “This trip wasn’t what we wanted and what we needed, but it’s going to be good to go back home with our fans and finish the season strong. Hopefully something will go our way with other results.”
SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell stuck with the same goalkeeper and back four they have been using but made numerous changes in the lineup ahead of that. Notable omissions from the starting lineup were midfielder Omar Gordon and forward Ever Guzman, while Kyle Murphy made a rare start as the lone forward.
The sides entered Saturday’s match just three points apart in the standings, but with only Saint Louis in a playoff spot with just a few weeks to go in the regular season. Both sides struggled to break each other down, though decent chances came along at each end of the pitch.
In the first 45 minutes, all five of Saint Louis’ shots came from inside the box, while all three of SAFC’s were from outside. SAFC led in long passes 48-37 despite being outpassed 262-244. Though they were both getting chances, they came through different routes.
The second half was much like the first with both sides finding their share of chances. Saint Louis managed to get on the board first though as midfielder Lewis Hilton arrowed the ball into the top left corner in the 79th minute after forward Albert Dikwa played a short pass to him at the top of the 18-yard box.
SAFC pushed a bit harder in the dying minutes of the match but found no equalizer. They managed a few decent chances from free kicks around the box but they were saved well by Saint Louis goalkeeper Tomas Gomez.
Saint Louis doubled their lead in second-half stoppage time as Dikwa latched onto a long ball and evaded onrushing SAFC goalkeeper Matt Cardone before sliding the ball into an open net from a tight angle.
SAFC’s playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread and no longer in their own hands, trailing Reno 1868 FC, who have two matches in hand, by three points. Three home matches to end the season will give SAFC hope, but the disappointing performances and results they have put in may hurt the number and spirit of fans showing up to Toyota Field.
“Tonight was a tough result, it was a very tight game,” Powell said. “What we need to do now is control the business that we can control. We have to make sure we pick up points as we strive to make the playoffs.”