San Antonio FC lost a crucial match in its quest for the playoffs when the team fell to Real Monarchs 2-0 in Salt Late City on Wednesday night. Two goals in the final 20 minutes of the game boosted the Utah club’s playoff chances and put a sizable dent in San Antonio’s.
A mere 17 minutes before the final whistle Real Monarchs cashed in on a mistake by San Antonio FC goalkeeper Matt Cardone and opened scoring. Cardone missed two opportunities to take possession of the ball, which allowed Real Monarchs to play the ball back to midfielder Charlie Adams who caught Cardone out of position and put the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
Real Monarchs sealed the win in the 82nd minute when a swift counter left San Antonio stranded. Adams played the ball over the top for forward Pedro Baez, who was clean through on Cardone and easily put it past him for the win.
Real Monarchs started the match well, holding the bulk of the early possession. San Antonio had a strong defensive shape and the first chance of the match fell to the visitors: midfielder Shawn Chin was played through, but his cross was cleared away for a throw.
Real Monarchs were awarded a penalty after the referee adjudged the ball to have come off San Antonio defender Sam McBride’s hand in the 18th minute. Baez stepped up to take the shot, but Cardone chose the right side and made a strong left hand save to keep the match scoreless.
Instead of being lifted by Cardone’s save, San Antonio deflated and returned possession to Real Monarchs. Despite conceding the possession, San Antonio rarely looked troubled by the Real Monarchs offense.
San Antonio had another chance at an opener when forward Taylor Morgan found space on the right hand side and squared the ball in for Chin. Chin’s shot, however, went across the face and wide, letting Real Monarchs off the hook.
The front three of Chin, Morgan, and forward Jason Johnson created another opportunity to score five minutes before halftime when Chin made a strong run in from the left and played it short for Johnson. Johnson managed a back-heel to Morgan, whose cross to Chin was good, but Chin’s volley was off target, high, and wide.
After a slip from San Antonio FC, Real Monarchs charged and countered on the right with three-on-three. Baez was on the shot again and got in on Cardone, who was able to save and smother the rebound before it could go in the net, keeping the game scoreless at the half.
The second half started as an end-to-end affair, with both teams running the ball around but having little to show for it. When either side was able to get into the box, the opposing defense swarmed quickly to kill the opportunity.
On the hour mark San Antonio FC looked to create more offensive attacks by bringing forward Franck Tayou in to partner with Carlos Alvarez up front.
After some stunning defensive work from Johnson, San Antonio FC launched a counter attack. Johnson was able to square the ball for Alvarez who was in space from 20 yards. He spotted Real Monarchs keeper off the line and beat him, but could only find the crossbar.
San Antonio FC pushed hard in the closing minutes to pull a goal back into the match but with a two goal lead, Real Monarchs were too far out of reach. The resulting loss leaves San Antonio FC two points away from the playoff places with only two matches left to play. Not only does the team need a win in both games, it also needs Orange County Blues to drop matches for the playoffs to remain a viable goal.
San Antonio FC will return to Toyota Field to face Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7.30 p.m.
Top image: Ryan Roushandel congratulates Matt Cardone for making a strong save. Photo courtesy of San Antonio FC.