An early goal gave San Antonio a strong start that they maintained throughout the match.
The team announced before the match that Wednesday’s loss against Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup was even worse than it appeared as an injury will keep midfielder Shawn Chin out for the remainder of the season. Chin broke his leg in a fruitless attempt to block a goal, and having been one of the rare leading lights up front for San Antonio FC this year, his injury comes as a big loss for the team.
Saturday’s match featured a different front combination with Victor Araujo getting a rare start in the game.
Colorado Springs knew that the humidity was going to cause an issue for them as the match wore on, but in just the third minute they had a golden goal opportunity. Some poor defending from San Antonio left midfielder Luke Vercollone wide open seven yards out, but his shot was somehow denied by keeper Josh Ford who continued his run of bailing out his team’s poor defending.
A brilliant counter attack gave San Antonio their first goal chance of the match in the seventh minute, as they rushed forward, getting five players into the box. The cross from San Antonio defender Greg Cochrane came in for Michael Reed who sent the effort just wide of goal.
A horrible defensive mistake by Colorado Springs allowed San Antonio FC to open the scoring just one minute later. Switchbacks defender JJ Greer gave away possession to Reed, allowing him to find Araujo who shot just past the keeper for his first professional goal and the first Colorado Springs had conceded in five matches.
San Antonio was then able to defend with confidence, and they cleared the ball upfield more than they normally do. San Antonio Head Coach Darren Powell has tended to have his team play the ball out of defense, but with a lead to protect the team became more interested in giving Colorado Springs poor territory and didn’t want to risk losing possession.
Switchbacks forward Martin “Marty” Maybin could have given Colorado Springs the equalizer as the low cross came in, allowing Maybin to flick the ball onward. His delicate chip beat Ford, but could only find the cross bar, sparing Ford and allowing San Antonio FC to clear.
Reed continued his powerful half, and in the 22nd minute he nearly gave San Antonio their second goal. Araujo held up possession and crossed in for Reed who made a late run into the box, but his header went right at the keeper for a simple save.
A free-kick gave San Antonio their second goal, though in some messy circumstances. Araujo sent in the ball which found Stephen McCarthy, who remained onside and took a header that was saved by the keeper, Devala Gorrick. But McCarthy remained calm and shot again off the rebound that Gorrick couldn’t get to until after it crossed the line for the goal.
Another free-kick gave San Antonio a good opportunity three minutes from the halftime break, as a typically good delivery from Rafael Castillo led to some difficulty in the box. The ball bounced around before San Antonio defender Fejiro Okiomah got the volley away which went right at Gorrick.
A block saved Colorado Springs moments later, with Greer perhaps making amends for his earlier mistake. After San Antonio passed the ball around in the box, Araujo was able to get a shot away which was blocked by Greer allowing Gorrick to come and claim the ball, keeping it 2-0 at the half.
For the start of the second half, Colorado Springs changed their shape and added a man in midfield and up front to try and break down San Antonio FC. But, oddly, Swithbacks head coach Steve Trittschuh took out their leading scorer, Maybin, despite their two goal deficit.
Colorado Springs was given a golden opportunity to score in the 50th minute after Milton Palacios shoved his man in the box, giving the Switchbacks a penalty kick. Vercollone took the shot and dispatched it perfectly into the top right corner of the net to pull Colorado Springs back in to the match.
Now only one goal behind, Colorado Springs’ attack had much more purpose to it, and in the 54th minute Ford had to come up big again. A header from the Switchbacks went low and was save by Ford, although the offside flag would have denied the effort anyway.
Some great footwork from Switchbacks forward Saeed Robinson nearly gave Colorado Springs an equalizer, as he hauled in the ball well. To show off his skills, he cut inside two defenders and then shot, but sent it over the bar.
Just after the hour mark there was potentially more bad injury news for San Antonio FC after livewire Araujo was stretchered from the park.After the match there were no signs of the severity of Araujo’s injury.
Araujo’s injury led to a debut by forward Franck Tayou, signed as cover after Chin’s injury. Tayou’s first ever touch for the club was nearly a goal as a deflected cross fell to the striker, but was saved.
That started a good passage from San Antonio FC as less than one minute after Tayou’s effort Carlos Alvarez was able to get a shot away. Alvarez found space outside the box and sent in a curling strike, which went agonizingly wide of the goal.
Palacios managed great defense to keep Colorado Springs out of the box, as the Switchbacks passed the ball around. The ball fell to Rony Argueta, seemingly with the goal at his mercy, but Palacios dove in and blocked the shot with his body, clearing the ball.
In the 74th minute San Antonio was a coat of paint away from restoring their two goal lead, after a wicked Castillo free-kick. His effort was powerful, but could only find the woodwork before bouncing off a defender and going just wide of goal.
Vercollone tried to win a penalty for Colorado Springs in the 78th minute as he went to ground easily in the box. But this time the referee disagreed, calling a goal-kick but not giving Vercollone a yellow card for the dive which would have seen him off the pitch.
Colorado Springs kept adding strikers in an effort to put them back into the match, but that was creating problems. In the 80th minute, the Colorado box was too crowded, with too many men from both teams, creating a lack of space as the ball was dribbled out for a goal-kick.
Only Gorrick kept San Antonio from doubling their lead after a stunning counter attack saw San Antonio FC switch the play. The ball went out wide for Reed, who cut inside three defenders to create the space and get a shot away which Gorrick saved.
The save gave San Antonio a corner kick with an opportunity to waste time, which they did successfully, to hold on for the vital win.
Top image: San Antonio FC won against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Saturday, June 18, 2016, at Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Darren Abate/USL.