San Antonio FC’s playoff chances began to slip away as the team fell to fellow playoff hopeful Arizona United in Peoria, Ariz. on Saturday night. One goal in the 73rd minute was enough for Arizona to get the 1-0 win and boost its playoff chances.
The possession statistic was largely lead by Arizona in the early minutes of the match but those chances were broken up by some strong San Antonio FC defending. That defense often skirted the line of what was legal, but committing fouls helped break up the play and inhibit Arizona’s flow.
Arizona United could very well have opened the scoring in the third minute as players worked hard to earn a corner. That effort was well taken, finding a man for a header, but with nobody rushing in, San Antonio keeper Josh Ford made the save.
A good passage of play came for San Antonio in the 17th minute starting with a free-kick by San Antonio midfielder Rafael Castillo. His ball was sent in to the box and kept alive by striker Taylor Morgan; the players kept the ball bouncing around the front of the box before the referee adjudged a foul on the goalkeeper allowing Arizona to clear.
It didn’t take much longer for San Antonio FC to get its first chance of the match as midfielder Carlos Alvarez made a great run. He used his speed to cut inside and create space to get a shot away but he got his foot too far under the ball and scooped it over the bar.
The best chance of the first half came to Arizona United in the 28th minute through striker Chris Cortez. Arizona midfielder Blair Gavin was strong on the wing, which allowed him a cross into Cortez, but he headed it right at Josh Ford, making it an easy save for San Antonio’s goalkeeper.
The woodwork rescued Arizona on the half hour as San Antonio’s Alvarez got through and cut the ball back for a wide open midfielder Sebastien Thuriere. The Haitian midfielder had more time than he realized, and by rushing his shot he could only find the post.
San Antonio was getting stronger after the half-hour, and had another shot in the 34th minute when the ball fell to once again to midfielder Castillo. Despite ample time and space to pick his spot he shot right at Arizona’s goalkeeper and the match remained scoreless.
Ford was the man keeping San Antonio from conceding late in the first half after Arizona forward Long Tan found space on the right. Tan sent in a low cross for his midfielder Tony Cascio but Ford got down low to block the shot, which San Antonio cleared, keeping the match nil-nil at halftime.
A corner from Arizona created some difficult times for San Antonio FC in the 52nd minute as Arizona defender Peter Ramage ran on to the ball. He went low and got caught leading to some pinball in the box before the referee called for a clearing foul for San Antonio.
San Antonio FC was growing in confidence as the match wore on, but Arizona’s defense held strong, keeping San Antonio at bay. When San Antonio had opportunities, the placement of the players’ shots was poor, often aimed right at the keeper.
A rare Josh Ford error nearly let Arizona in as he looked to claim a ball but could only flap at it. That allowed a free shot for Arizona United, but San Antonio defender Stephen McCarthy got back on the line and cleared the ball out for a corner.
Arizona gained the upper hand late in the game with a through-ball play. Despite San Antonio looking strong, Arizona forward Tyler Blackwood was able to get through on goal, albeit in a tight offside decision, and play a shot low and hard across the face for the opening goal in the 73rd minute.
After taking the lead, Arizona started to sit back more, making San Antonio come at them and with San Antonio’s shooting woes throughout the match that was not a difficult task. San Antonio FC seemed stressed and panicked throughout the final minutes, rushing passes despite having time to find an equalizer.
San Antonio had one last chance in stoppage time when striker Franck Tayou was played through on goal. But the linesman flagged for offside when it appeared Tayou was just on, letting Arizona off as they held on for the 1-0 win.
San Antonio FC will have a shot at redemption when they host Arizona at Toyota Field Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m. when both teams will continue their chase for the playoffs.
Top image: San Antonio FC’s Biko Bradnock-Brennan chases the ball during a match against Arizona United SC. Photo courtesy of Arizona United SC/USL.