San Antonio FC (8-7-8, 31pts) earned their second straight win at home against the Seattle Sounders FC 2 (7-6-11, 27pts) in front of 6,417 to move into 8th place in the Western Conference. This was the second, and final match-up between the two sides for 2016. San Antonio won both, with S2 failing to score on the Alamo City boys, going 0-4 vs the Texans.
After only earning one point on their last three match road trip, San Antonio has found its form in the confines of Toyota Field, grabbing all six points in two matches. They now sit in the final playoff spot with seven matches left in the regular season.
The first half was controlled mostly by San Antonio, however the attacking form was not creative. There were a handful of chances by San Antonio that were just wide of the S2 net. A free kick by Carlos Alvarez just outside the penalty area soared past the goal to give S2 a scare. A little later in the half, former Futsal star Franck Tayou juggled the ball in the box and volleyed it straight to the keeper. The skills used to control the ball in such a tight space can be attributed to his scoring prowess in Futsal, where the playing field is much smaller than the soccer pitch.
Halftime came with the teams heading to the locker room 0-0. It didn't take long for a weather delay to come into effect due to lightning in the area. Luckily for the fans and teams, there was only one delay and they were able to finish the match without interruption.
The second half saw sprinkles add to the match's atmosphere. The break through came in the 51' when Taylor Morgan sent a beautiful through ball to Rafa Castillo who slotted the ball past the keeper to give the home side the lead.
The last 15 minutes or so were dominated by S2 possession and attack who were looking for the equalizer. It never came. San Antonio goal keeper Matt Cardone was brilliant in goal. He had a few spectacular saves, none better or more crucial than this one.
“We watch Matt every day in training, so training has prepared him for these moments" said Head Coach Darren Powell, "but tonight I thought he played probably his best game in a San Antonio FC shirt.”
San Antonio now hits the road for the next two matches to play St. Louis FC and their final match against Swope Park Rangers. Their next match at Toyota Field is September 4th against Arizona United FC.
Alamo Soccer's Man of the Match: Rafa Castillo (1 goal)
In its first competitive game ever, San Antonio FC shut-out the Seattle Sounders 2 in a 3-0 win at Starfire Stadium in Washington state. It was an explosive start for the visiting team as Jason Johnson scored the club's first goal in history in the 3'. He then doubled SA's lead in the 10' after a bad bounce skipped favorably over the S2 defense that left JJ 1v1 with the S2 goalie. San Antonio's defense would hold for the rest of the half, due in part to the heroics of captain Josh Ford. Ford had two great saves late in the first that preserved the Texans' lead.
Seattle came out of halftime the more aggressive team. A couple of solid chances came about, but were never out of Ford's reach. In the 79', 2nd half sub Fejiro Okiomah put the nail in the coffin when he sent home a Castillo rebound past S2's keeper, Tyler Miller, to make the score 3-0. Okiomah, used as a defender for most of his career, came on as a striker and delivered superbly in the team's first game.
SA's defense played well most of the game, but as always, there's room for improvement. The back line played a high line that frustrated Seattle's attack. On offensive, SA took advantages of its opportunities, however, S2 controlled the ball for most of the game.
Seattle has now started their 2016 campaign with three straight home losses and a goal differential of 0-6. They will stay in Seattle to face the other Texas team, RGV FC, next.
San Antonio returns home to play Swope Park Rangers, MLS' Sporting Kansas City's USL team, at Toyota Field. SAFC will find that SPR will be a tougher opponent than S2, especially in the attack. The home crowd is expected to be in full force as the Alamo City boys look to win their home opener on April 9.
Alamo Soccer's Man of the Match: Jason Johnson (2 goals)
All-time regular season series: First match
For their inaugural game, San Antonio FC will travel to the Pacific NorthWest to play Seattle Sounders 2. Though this is the first game of the 2016 season for SAFC, this will be the third game for the hosts; all three being played on their home turf. The Sounders lost a 1-0 decision to open their 2016 season versus the 2014 USL champions, Sacramento Republic FC. They followed that game with a tilt against Arizona United mid-week where they were again shutout, 2-0. The visiting team controlled most of their mid-week game, something that S2's next opponent will want to do as well.
This game, while early in the season, will be a big test for the Alamo City boys. Starting off their inaugural campaign on the road and in their first meaningful game together will undoubtedly create some nerves within the visiting side. For the veterans on the team, like Rafa Castillo, it will be important to show their leadership and poise as an example for the younger players on the roster.
Keys to the Game:
In their first ever game - on the road - it will be important for San Antonio to string together some early passes and make sure not to concede within the first 15 minutes. As the road team, taking advantage of every scoring opportunity will also help decide who will walk away with all three points.
Seattle will be hungry for their first win on home turf; SAFC should expect them to start the match very aggressively. San Antonio does have an advantage though - Seattle is coming off a mid-week game, so the Texans will have the fresher legs.
Don't expect Starfire Stadium to be fully packed with S2 fans, the club only averaged 2,221 fans in 2015 - just about 1/3 the attendance the former Scorpions averaged in 2015 at Toyota Field. Additionally, the Crocketteers and other supporters will be making the trip to support our team in their first ever USL match. Their presence will hopefully make a difference for the players on the pitch.
The first 15 minutes are the most critical for any away team, and will be for SAFC. Should they get past that point without conceding a goal, then they should do their best to dictate the pace of the game and break down the Seattle defense in due time. Based on coach Powell's game plans during pre-season, a defensive battle will be the most likely outcome in this first ever match between these two sides.
Here's to pulling out a Texas-sized win to begin this club's legacy!
The game is this Sunday, April 3rd at 7:00pm CST. #SEAvSA
How to watch:
doors open at 6pm CST
San Antonio FC & the USL
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