After the two teams fought to 1-1 draws last week, the Oklahoma City Energy FC and San Antonio FC faced off again, this time at Toyota Field on Saturday night. At the end of the night, it was Oklahoma City who got the 1-0 win, continuing the city’s good run against San Antonio sports teams.
“It’s a tough game to lose,” said San Antonio FC coach Darren Powell after the match. “We have to execute in these moments. The guys have worked hard for those moments and we didn’t score off any of those opportunities.”
Some lax defending from Oklahoma City in the second minute gave San Antonio the first chance of the match to score. That allowed Miguel Salazar to ghost in and take possession, setting up Carlos Alvarez who ran into the box, but pulled his shot too wide across the face of goal.
The lax defense continued at the opposite end of the field as Coy Craft was given too much space just outside the box, allowing him to shoot powerfully and beat Josh Ford, the ball coming off the crossbar and leading to a corner for San Antonio FC.
A flowing counter attack saw San Antonio trouble the goalkeeper for the first time in the 12th minute as six passes opened up the goal opportunity. That allowed Danny Garcia the chance to shoot from just inside the box, but it was too close to Cody Laurendi who made an easy save for a corner. On the resulting corner, Shawn Chin fell in the box and bayed for a penalty, but the referee was unmoved.
In the 18th minute, some quick rushing from Laurendi kept San Antonio off the board as Garcia made a strong run into the box. With little support, Laurendi rushed out, forcing Garcia to round him and create a tight angle that he could never open up, keeping it scoreless. Laurendi seemed almost unstoppable in the Energy goal as he came out to deny any ball that was sent in, sometimes with little regard for his own safety, which kept San Antonio off the board.
Michael Harris came in late on his man at the edge of the box, which allowed San Antonio a free-kick, right in front, just outside the box. That allowed the ever reliable Rafael Castillo to step up and hit it, but again Laurendi proved his worth making a strong save and sending it out for a corner which didn’t end in a San Antonio goal.
A strong run from Chin set up the next opportunity. He drew the attention of the defense, which allowed him to cut the ball back for Castillo, who smartly looked to chip Laurendi, beating him, but again the crossbar blocked the ball.
Garcia had the next opportunity of the passage as a missed clearance from Oklahoma City gave him time and space on the edge of the box. That allowed him to take a powerful shot that Laurendi rejected, leading to a corner which was well cleared by the OKC defense.
After a long period without a chance to score for Oklahoma City, a corner gave them their best chance of the first half. The ball was sent in and headed down toward goal, but Garcia was strong on the line and cleared the ball before any problems arose.
An attempted Olympico goal from Castillo nearly caught Laurendi in the opening stages of the second half. San Antonio FC packed the front of the goal mouth to try and disguise Castillo’s effort, which Laurendi got to before his defense cleared it.
Oklahoma City broke through in the 59th minute after Sebastian Dalgaard drew Ford and the San Antonio defense wide. That created space in the middle for Colin Bonner to receive the cross, and with Ford out wide he was left with a simple header to make it 1-0.
That goal marked nine straight matches for San Antonio FC to have conceded a goal, and Powell was searching for answers.
“I thought we defended well for the majority of the game,” he said. “We have got to keep working and get better.”
A goal up, Oklahoma City started to shut up shop as head coach Jimmy Nielsen quickly went to his bench to bring on a defensive player. Daniel Gonzalez replaced Dalgaard and the Energy defense changed their shape to a 4-5-1 off the ball to try and hold on to the one goal lead.
San Antonio made the opposite changes and in the 70th minute one of those substitutes nearly found a goal. Bobby Moseley made a strong run on the counter, and found space outside the box to hit a powerful shot which was deflected wide.
In the 79th minute, Craft capitalized on a missed clearance by Sam McBride, but went down in the box after the San Antonio defense rushed back. The Oklahoma City bench shot up and appealed for a penalty, but there was no call from the referee.
As the clock wound down, San Antonio threw more and more men forward and in stoppage time McBride nearly stole a point for San Antonio. A set-piece delivery was sent in perfectly for McBride to get a powerful header on goal, but he could only send it right to Laurendi, signaling the end of the match.
Up Next: San Antonio FC again will face a tight turn around for their third game in seven days as they face the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros for a South Texas derby at Toyota Field on Wednesday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m. With Houston Dynamo playing a friendly on Tuesday night, there could be fewer Dynamo contracted players available for that match, which could hand the advantage to San Antonio FC.
Top image: Oklahoma City Energy FC defender Michael Thomas wins a possession over San Antonio FC at a USL soccer match on Saturday, May 21, 2016, at Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Darren Abate/USL.