San Antonio FC played their first ever competitive match against Major League Soccer opposition, the Houston Dynamo, at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston on Wednesday night for the U.S. Open Cup. Despite a positive early performance, the strength of the MLS side proved too strong and the Dynamo came out with the 4-0 win.
At the start, possession was with San Antonio as they looked to get an early goal and unsettle their opponents. Yet despite maintaining possession of the ball, they struggled to get a real sight on goal. It was patient build-up from San Antonio FC that gave them control of the match, as they looked to pass the ball around and have Houston Dynamo rushing to cover. But the MLS side had a strong defense that consistently covered those San Antonio advances easily.
On the occasions when Houston did get the ball, the players were equally as patient and were content to pass it around and build things up from the back. It seemed that the main concern of both teams was to simply not concede a goal.
A corner gave San Antonio the first real opportunity of the match in the 21st minute as San Antonio FC defender Sam McBride was able to beat Houston defender Sheanon Williams to the ball. He got a header away that found the feet of a teammate who was stuck flatfooted, and Houston cleared the ball.
Defender Stephen McCarthy saved San Antonio FC minutes later as Houston’s DeMarcus Beasley made a great run down the left. Beasley played the ball through to midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia who took a shot that was denied by McCarthy. The shot deflected off Boniek Garcia for a San Antonio goal kick.
Houston Dynamo had another chance at the half-hour mark. Williams sent in a strong cross, finding Houston forward Maro Manotas who got a glancing header away that went just over the bar.
Houston Dynamo broke through in the 39th minute as Manotas made a long run with Boniek Garcia in support. Manotas looked to pass to Boniek Garcia, who made an unexpected run that forced Manotas to run onto his own ball. But with the San Antonio defense struggling to cover after San Antonio defender Milton Palacios slipped on the pitch, Manotas was able to shoot powerfully into the bottom left hand corner, leaving San Antonio keeper Josh Ford no chance to block it.
With the very last kick of the half, Houston Dynamo doubled their lead thanks to a short corner from Boniek Garcia that allowed Beasley to cross the ball in for David Rocha who flicked it to Alex Lima who was left wide open to capitalize on the chance and make the score 2-0 at half time.
From the start of the second half, Dyname came out determined to wrap the match up. They immediately went on the attack from the opening kick-off, but the San Antonio defense recovered after a difficult finish to the first half.
Only a good save from Ford kept the match at 2-0 as Rocha was back at it again, finding space from 30 yards out. Ford dove down to his left and made a strong save, sending it out for a corner, which San Antonio FC cleared.
A clever corner set-piece move gave San Antonio FC an opportunity to get back into the match in the 57th minute. San Antonio forward Jason Johnson made a put pressure on the Houston keeper Joe Willis, but when the ball was served in to Johnson, Willis got to it and made the save.
Rocha proved to be vital again in the 60th minute and sent in a free-kick that found Houston’s Raul Rodriguez who hit a powerful diving header that had far too much on it for Ford to stop, bringing the score to 3-0.
Poor defense from San Antonio FC gave possession straight back to Houston Dynamo, forcing Ford to rush out of the goal. That move gave Dynamo numbers, and allowed Lima to pass to midfielder Leonel Miranda who was able to simply pass the ball into the back of an empty net.
But Ford was at his best again in the 73rd minute and denied Houston midfielder Cristian Maidana from scoring a fifth shot from a free-kick. The shot went surprisingly to Ford’s right, but the keeper was up to it and made a sprawling save for a corner that San Antonio cleared.
Things started looking up for San Antonio in the final 15 minutes, but by then it was too late, and Houston was looking to close things out. The score line was perhaps a little harsh on San Antonio, who played some great soccer in the early stages of the match, but once Dynamo got the lead they were never going to let go, and cruised to the victory to advance in the tournament, and end San Antonio FC’s cup run.
San Antonio FC will have little time to recover from the big loss as they take on the second place Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Toyota Field on Saturday.
Top image: San Antonio FC’s line up for their match against Houston Dynamo. Photo courtesy of San Antonio FC.