It was a night of penalties, both awarded and not awarded, as San Antonio FC dominated their match against the conference leaders, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. That domination allowed San Antonio to completely nullify Vancouver as they claimed a valuable 2-0 win over the Whitecaps.
“We scored two goals and got three points against the team that is top of the table, so it’s a very pleasing result,” said San Antonio FC Head Coach Darren Powell after the match. “They’re a very good team…the way we want to play, and the way we were able to impose ourselves on the game, that’s what we want every week, whoever we play.”
San Antonio FC got the lead in the 63rd minute after Michael Reed was tripped in the box, forcing the referee to point to the penalty spot. San Antonio FC midfielder Rafael Castillo confidently took the penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way to pull San Antonio ahead 1-0.
San Antonio FC striker Franck Tayou wrapped the match up in stoppage time when he received a through ball. After almost losing control of the ball, he kept it together and simply sent it past the keeper to give San Antonio the 2-0 win.
Vancouver had a penalty of their own in the 20th minute, but Vancouver striker Kyle Greig was much too tactical with his effort, doing a stutter step and hitting a very tame penalty that was easy for stand-in San Antonio keeper Matt Cardone to save.
“It was a big moment in the game, goals change games, and Matt (Cardone) has that moment and he has to make a decision on the penalty save, and he makes a great save,” Powell said. “He gained confidence from that and had a good, calm, solid performance.”
San Antonio was left angered in the 56th minute when an even more obvious shout for a penalty was denied. Johnson was shoved in the box and went down, leaving the fans baying for a penalty and head coach Darren Powell running off his chair in appeal.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 goalkeeper Spencer Richey somehow kept the scores level in the 58th minute when San Antonio had a seemingly open shot on goal. The ball fell to new San Antonio striker Cesar Elizondo who headed at the open net, but somehow Richey got across and made the save, allowing his side to clear.
The Vancouver bench was left angered in stoppage time when Johnson kicked at his opponent while down. The referee missed the call and it prompted angry scenes from the Vancouver coaching staff who argued vigorously with the referee, but could not change his mind.
A mistake from the Vancouver defense, when they allowed the ball to bounce just outside the box, gave San Antonio the first clear goal opportunity just two minutes in. San Antonio striker Taylor Morgan gathered the ball and looked to set up a play, but the assistant flagged him offsides.
With such hot weather, Vancouver seemed to be defending en masse in an effort to conserve energy. That made scoring chances rare, with San Antonio’s second chance not coming until the 15th minute when a cross from San Antonio defender Greg Cochrane went across the face and passed to San Antonio striker Jason Johnson who shot, off balance, at the keeper.
Apart from that penalty, San Antonio was dominant throughout the first-half, having all the shots, but struggling to break down Vancouver. They had two scoring chances in the 26th minute. The first came to midfielder Carlos Alvarez who worked hard to cut inside his defenders and shoot just wide before Morgan also fired wide, off a header.
San Antonio was starting to make a run at goal, trying to find the opener that their play merited and on the half-hour went close yet again. This time it was Johnson, who shot from the edge of the box from Morgan’s ball back to him but his shot went just high.
That strong Vancouver defense was proving difficult to break down, showing why they are top of the league. Only some desperate defense kept San Antonio off the board just before half-time when Johnson’s shot off a corner was blocked by a defender, keeping it scoreless at half-time.
Only some stunning goalkeeping from Richey kept San Antonio off the board early in the second half. When a through-ball was played for Morgan, Richey came out quickly to clear the ball away.
Cardone was left scrambling in the 81st minute when Vancouver caught the San Antonio FC keeper and defense off guard with a clever shot. Cardone was forced to run across the goal to try and get to it, but it mercifully went just wide, letting San Antonio off.
San Antonio should have doubled their lead with one minute left in on the clock after some neat footwork by Johnson. He cut inside his defender and sent the ball in for Elizondo, who was put off by Richey and sent the ball over the bar.
Top image: San Antonio FC dominated Vancouver Whitecaps FC2 on Saturday, July 16, at Toyota Field. Photo by Darren Abate/USL.