Just when it seemed like San Antonio FC would make a run for the playoffs the club suffered their second straight loss on Saturday night. Swope Park Rangers managed a strong second half to overcome a half-time deficit and defeat San Antonio FC 2-1 at Swope Soccer Village.
San Antonio FC started the match strong, as they maintained much of the possession in the early minutes against a sluggish Swope Park Rangers side. They could well have had a man advantage in just the fourth minute when Swope Park midfielder Ualefi Rodrigues dos Reis lashed out at San Antonio FC striker Cesar Elizondo but got away with a yellow card.
Swope Park was restricted to mostly long, hopeful balls in the early stages of the first half, but as things wore on they got more in to the match. San Antonio FC goalkeeper Matt Cardone held strong in the San Antonio goal, preventing Swope Park from scoring when the chances came.
Both teams were bypassing their midfield far too often, playing long balls out of defense, which made defending easy for both sides. That meant the best chances came from set pieces like a 20th minute free-kick for Swope Park Rangers. Swope Park midfielder Alex Molano curled it around the wall, but Cardone scrambled to save the ball, allowing the San Antonio defense to clear.
San Antonio FC got a break in the 26th minute when Molano sent the ball for Swope Park striker Kris Tyrpak. That allowed former Scorpion Tyrpak to square the ball for fellow Swope Park striker Mark Anthony Gonzalez whose first touch was poor, allowing San Antonio FC to get back and cover the shot, blocking and then clearing it.
On the half-hour mark San Antonio FC stunned Swope Park Rangers with a surprise goal. San Antonio midfielder Danny Garcia gathered the ball well, allowing him to play it through to fellow midfielder Michael Reed who easily turned to beat the keeper with a well-placed shot out of his reach on the right to open the scoring.
In the final minute of the first half, a free-kick gave Swope Park Rangers their best opportunity of the match. The ball came in for 6-foot-2 Swope Park defender Oumar Ballo who hit a strong header but was denied by a parry from Cardone. The ball fell to Ballo once again but Cardone made another spectacular save to keep San Antonio FC in the lead at the half.
Swope Park Rangers started the second half off on the wrong foot, as they gave away four fouls in the opening four minutes of the half – much to the benefit of San Antonio FC, who had the lead and enjoyed the downtime the free-kicks allotted them.
Without looking like too much of a threat, San Antonio FC initially controlled things well in the second half, holding on to their lead. Midfielder Sebastien Thuriere came on for Reed, creating a more defensive shape in his holding midfielder role.
Swope Park appeared frustrated in the 67th minute after a free-kick was sent in to the box and deflected off San Antonio FC defenders. The referee waved the play on despite appeals for a handball, which, even on a replay, could not be determined clearly.
Desperate defending from San Antonio FC kept the match level after a squared ball fromTyler Pasher was sent to his striker Gonzalez. That forced Cardone off the line, giving Gonzalez the slightest touch on it. However, San Antonio defender Greg Cochrane intervened and was able to clear it off the line.
One of Swope Park Rangers’ substitutes, striker Ayrton Pinheiro Victor, helped the hosts get the lead as he smartly halted his run to get across in to the box. Dane Kelly found the ball and scored with an impressive header that bounced in off the crossbar, out of San Antonio goalkeeper Matt Cardone’s reach in the 71st minute.
Swope Park weren’t content with the one goal lead a spilled save from Cardone allowed Swope Park Rangers to take the lead when midfielder Pasher flicked toward the goal. Cardone made the save but the ball fell right to Swope Park striker Mark Anthony Gonzalez who scored with a simple tap-in in the 84th minuteto give Swope Park a 2-1 win.
Only a heavy touch from Kelly let San Antonio off from a bigger loss after he was played through by Pasher. But Kelly’s heavy touch allowed Cardone to come out and make the save easily, stopping the goal difference getting bigger.
San Antonio FC will face Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday, Aug. 6 in their first and only match against the California team. Their third consecutive away game is on Saturday, Aug. 13 against Arizona United SC, followed by a home game against Arizona on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
For tickets and more information, click here.
Top image: San Antonio FC goalkeeper Matt Cardone defends his goal during a game at Toyota Field. Photo by Darren Abate, courtesy of USL.