Poor defending and a missed penalty call cost San Antonio FC dearly as they fell to a 3-1 loss to Saint Louis FC at Toyota Field on Saturday night. As a result of the loss, San Antonio FC now sits four points – one win and a draw – behind the playoffs, in ninth place with just four matches left in the season.
The game was off to an unfortunate start for San Antonio FC when a perfect chip over the top found Saint Louis forward Irvin Herrera in the 12th minute as. Herrera was left open, hit a simple header and easily got it over the keeper.
Three minutes later, Herrera scored his second goal of the night after the San Antonio defense left him wide open again. Some good passing on the left allowed Saint Louis to cut the ball back to Herrera, all alone on the penalty spot, which allowed him to send the ball to the back of the net.
In the 32nd minute a good ball out to the left from San Antonio FC midfielder Rafael Castillo found midfield teammate Carlos Alvarez. Alvarez controlled well and continued his good goal scoring form as he hit a powerful strike from the edge of the area, across the face of goal and in to the back of the net.
Herrera wrapped up his hat-trick in the 53rd minute, after the referee failed to award San Antonio a penalty at the opposite end of the field. Saint Louis countered and got the ball forward to Herrera who got past two missed challenges, created space, and passed the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-1.
Poor goalkeeping clearance from Saint Louis FC nearly let San Antonio FC score in the very first minute of the game. The scuffed clearance went right to Castillo, but Castillo’s shot went right at the keeper.
San Antonio goalkeeper Matt Cardone was forced in to a strong save in the second minute when Saint Louis was able to get through and create a one-on-one chance. Despite beating the defense, Saint Louis midfielder Schillo Tshuma couldn’t beat Cardone who saved well at full stretch.
San Antonio FC needed a win to get back in to the playoff hunt. The team started with the bulk of possession and kept pushing hard and looking for goals, but Saint Louis sat back strongly and repeatedly denied San Antonio’s opportunities to get shots away.
Castillo worked hard for San Antonio FC and went agonizingly close to pulling a goal back in the 25th minute. Alvarez sent him a perfect ball but Castillo’s shot went just wide of the goal.
Saint Louis’ Herrera continued to push for goals. In the 36th minute he found space on the edge of the area and hit a powerful shot, but San Antonio’s Cardone was up to the task, got the ball at full stretch, and sent it out for a corner.
San Antonio FC came out from the break determined to get back on level terms. Five minutes into the second half San Antonio FC forward Franck Tayou came close when he got a good shot away, but his effort went out for a corner, letting Saint Louis off the hook.
San Antonio played aggressively to get goals back throughout the game. Chances by both Castillo and Tayou went unrewarded right after Saint Louis scored its second goal and again in the 67th minute. Taylor Morgan, who hit a powerful shot as result of a corner, was also denied by Saint Louis FC’s goalkeeper, as was Tayou missed again in the 77th minute.
San Antonio FC was the stronger team in the final 20 minutes of the match, but with a two goal lead, Saint Louis was able to sit back. The visitors were hard to break down and San Antonio’s chances were often blocked, deflected or saved, leading to a frustrating loss for the hosts.
San Antonio FC will head to Utah to face Real Monarchs SLC Wednesday, Sept. 14. The team will then return to Toyota Field for its last home match of the season on Sept. 17 against Tulsa Roughnecks FC.
Top image: Carlos Alvarez scored San Antonio FC’s lone goal against Saint Louis FC Saturday night at Toyota Field. Photo by Darren Abate for USL.