San Antonio FC faced a must win match against Tulsa Roughnecks at Toyota Field on Saturday night, and the team did what it needed to do by getting a 2-0 win. After Rio Grande beat Orange County, San Antonio FC lifted up in to the last playoff spot, pending the result between Arizona United and Real Monarchs late on Saturday night.
“I’m not (keeping an eye on results in other matches) during the match as I don’t have my phone out,” San Antonio FC Coach Darren Powell said. “But as soon as I got in to the locker room I had my phone out and sat down with the players. I’ve only looked at that (league) table 100 times during the past week. Our job is to worry about what we can do, and that’s take maximum points in our last two matches of the season, and we did that tonight.”
A defensive mistake from Tulsa allowed San Antonio FC to open the scoring in the 49th minute. After Tulsa let a corner bounce, the ball was played for San Antonio FC forward Franck Tayou who managed a bicycle kick to beat the keeper.
“I was frustrated because I wasn’t getting any chances,” Tayou said after the match. “So I was relieved to see the ball in the back of the net, and that’s what we needed especially at that stage of the game.”
San Antonio FC sealed its win in the 87th minute thanks to good ball movement around the box which afforded San Antonio forward Shawn Chin enough space to send his shot past the keeper at the near post to make it 2-0.
San Antonio goalkeeper Matt Cardone made a league best fourth penalty save of the season in the 12th minute. Tulsa Roughnecks striker Sammy Ochoa stepped up to take the penalty, which was too low and central, making it easy for Cardone to make the save.
Up against the lowest ranking team in the league, expectations were high, and San Antonio FC made the most of early opportunities in the match. In the seventh minute San Antonio midfielder Rafael Castillo was inches away from opening the scoring as he shot powerfully from 25 yards. He beat the keeper but his shot came back off the crossbar.
Tulsa got its first real shot away in the 25th minute after San Antonio allowed the Roughnecks to advance. Tulsa forward Cristian Mata got a shot away from the edge of the area, hit it low with a chance to bounce off the turf, but Cardone managed the save.
In the 35th minute forward Taylor Morgan cut the ball back from Castillo, who hit his shot powerfully along the ground, but once again only found the post.
San Antonio FC gained strong passage and began to dominate possession, leading the team to nearly score again in the 37th minute. The ball came out wide right to Morgan, who looked to punish his former club, ran in on goal and got the shot away but could only find the side netting.
San Antonio FC forward Jason Johnson nearly scored the opener in the 44th minute as he was able to take advantage of a defensive lapse. Johnson got around the defense and ran in on goal, attempting to chip the keeper but sent the ball just over the bar.
Tayou was close to a second goal in the 62nd minute when a cross was played down well, giving the big forward a clear look at goal but he sent the effort high and wide, letting Tulsa off the hook.
Tulsa started coming at San Antonio FC in the final 20 minutes, which opened up space for the hosts to exploit in the 86th minute. A through-ball found Carlos Alvares, who was incorrectly flagged for offside as he put the ball in the back of the net.
San Antonio will now travel to Edinburg to take on Rio Grande Valley FC Toros in the last match of the regular season on Saturday, Sept. 24. A win in that match would seal San Antonio a place in the playoffs, but should the team drop points – a draw or a loss – it will need a good amount of luck to make the playoff spot official.
Top image: San Antonio FC’s Shawn Chin scored a vital goal against Tulsa Roughnecks FC in the 87th minute. Photo by Darren Abate for USL.