After a lengthy road trip, San Antonio FC returned home to take on the Tulsa Roughnecks at Toyota Field on Saturday night and got back on track with a 3-1 win.
San Antonio vastly outplayed Tulsa throughout the match, and could have won by an even bigger margin, if not for some occasionally strong Tulsa defense.
“It feels good to win,” said San Antonio FC head coach Darren Powell after the match. “They made it very difficult for us. But the effort was there, the will to win was there and that’s what pushed us over the line tonight … we’re moving in the right direction.”
San Antonio started the match well, with plenty of possession and the early chances coming their way, but the Tulsa defense was much improved. Tulsa players were sliding in well and committing to challenges that they would not have done earlier in the season.
A strong run from Carlos Alvarez presented a good opportunity for San Antonio FC in the 12th minute, as the space opened up in front of him allowing him a shot, which was blocked, allowing Alex Mangels to claim easily.
A poor back-pass with far too much power in it put San Antonio FC in trouble in the 19th minute, forcing Josh Ford to control a bouncing ball before just clearing it ahead of the striker running onto it.
The first really clear cut opportunity of the night came to an unlikely source in the 21st minute as Bobby Moseley found space. That allowed Moseley to run into the box and, with space still available, he shot right at the keeper, who clutched the ball gratefully to his chest.
San Antonio FC had another chance to open the scoring in the 29th minute when the ball was played out wide to Victor Araujo who sent a ball into the box to Rafa Castillo who just couldn’t jump high enough.
One minute later, a free-kick gave San Antonio another chance, as Castillo whipped the ball into the box and found Sebastien Thuriere. The Haitian international got a header, but he sent it too wide of the goal, letting Tulsa off.
Some great individual brilliance from Shawn Chin gave San Antonio FC the opening goal in the 38th minute. After Carlos Alvarez played it in, Chin controlled and dinked it around his man, beat Mangels to the ball and poked the ball home from a tight angle.
That spurred San Antonio on, and the next opportunity came just one minute later, finding Chin. He found space about 20 yards from goal and unleashed a powerful shot, which went just to the left of goal.
Unfortunately the goal seemed to also rile up the crowd, who started resorting to a familiar discriminatory chant again, that was previously barely heard in the stadium. While it was clear at the start of the match San Antonio FC had taken some sort of action during the break to stress to the supporters groups that chant was not wanted, it came out more as the match wore on. Thankfully, the supporter groups stayed out of it, clearly responding to the club’s wishes.
Early in the second half, Tulsa were able to get back on level terms after Sammy Ochoa worked hard to set up the opportunity. The ball came to Kaleem who was able to bundle it over the line and pull the Roughnecks back on to level terms.
That forced San Antonio to respond, and they quickly took back charge of the match, attacking and controlling the possession. But they failed to really make that possession count, as their chances were far too often and far too easy for the keeper.
San Antonio went agonizingly close to a goal in the 66th minute, when Alvarez was able to find Chin in space. He sent in a shot onto the cross-bar, which was well saved by Mangels, and out for a corner which was half-cleared.
After the clearance, a foul on San Antonio FC gave them a chance just inside from the corner flag, which was whipped into the box. That ball fell to Sam McBride, who sent the ball across the face of goal, but Tulsa cleared it.
Yet again that clearance was poor, and was quickly gathered in by Rafael Castillo, who used his footwork to create space. With that space opened up, Castillo launched an absolute rocket of a strike bursting through Mangel’s hands and into the back of the net.
A corner gave San Antonio a chance to double their lead with five minutes to play, and it was their best one of the night. The ball was floated in perfectly for Jason Johnson who sent in a looping header, just over the bar.
A defensive error made it three for San Antonio, as again Tulsa failed to clear, which allowed Chin to set up. Chin’s shot, which was blocked by Mangels, fell to Johnson. With Mangels now out of position, he chipped the ball past the defense on the line and into the back of the net, sealing the 3-1 win.
It was a smart chip from Johnson to beat the keeper, but he refused to take much of the glory.
“Shawn Chin had a great chance, and I tucked it away … it was just instinct to chip, a last minute thing.”
Top image: San Antonio FC players celebrate a goal by forward Shawn Chin during the first half of a USL soccer match against the Tulsa Roughnecks FC, Saturday, April 30, 2016, at Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Darren Abate, USL.