Image: Darren Abate, USL

San Antonio FC began a three-match home run to end the 2018 season with a 3-1 win against Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Toyota Field on Saturday night. The result means they’ll still be in the playoff hunt for at least one more match.

The highlight of SAFC’s lineup was defender Greg Cochrane appearing in his 100th match for the club in all competitions. Midfielder Jose Escalante earned his first start in just over a month and Mike Seth took Darnell King’s place on the right side of the defense as the latter was moved to the center. Returning from an injury, midfielder and San Antonio soccer legend Rafa Castillo came off the bench to play the last 16 minutes.

“We needed to win tonight, that was the biggest part,” Cochrane said. “The ceremony was nice, but it wouldn’t have been good without the win.”

In an open and free-flowing first half, SAFC drew first blood in the 19th minute, Forward Ever Guzman intercepted a S2 goal kick and drove forward before squaring the ball to midfielder Lance Laing, who calmly and easily slotted it home. It was Guzman’s third assist as well as Laing’s fourth goal after joining the club in August.

SAFC doubled their lead just seven minutes later as Laing chased down a ball played down the left flank and crossed into the box where midfielder Ethan Bryant volleyed it in off the underside of the crossbar.

Bryant, who turned 17 in August, scored his first goal at the USL level and became SAFC’s youngest ever goalscorer in the process. Saturday’s match was also the fourth time since joining SAFC that Laing has scored and assisted in a match.

SAFC couldn’t hold their two-goal lead until halftime though. Seattle forward Azriel Gonzalez cut inside from the left and placed a low shot precisely in the bottom right corner in the 45th minute to halve the deficit in a match SAFC badly needed to win.

The second half was just as open as the first with SAFC having the better share of chances, and they ultimately made it count in stoppage time in a play where all three substitutes combined. Castillo intercepted the ball in midfield and played it through for forward Kyle Murphy, whose shot was blocked but fell for midfielder Maxi Rodriguez to blast just under the crossbar for his first USL goal.

“We didn’t capitalize on some very good looks and opportunities in the second half to make it more comfortable, (but) then finally we got a breakaway at the end,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell. “The mission tonight was to get three points and that’s what we achieved.”

SAFC will host Las Vegas Lights FC and Rio Grande Valley FC at home the next two Saturdays, looking to keep their playoff hopes alive as they chase Reno 1868 FC, Swope Park Rangers and Saint Louis FC for a playoff spot.

Posted by J. Check

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