San Antonio FC took on the Colorado Springs Switchbacks at Weidner field in front of 5,531 fans on Saturday night where the match ended in a 1-1 draw but it wasn’t that easy, taking a miracle finish to secure a point.
SAFC hosted the first match against the Switchbacks on May 1 at Toyota Field. In the first game against Colorado, San Antonio came out strong as they led 2-0 at halftime. Forward, Santiago Patiño finished the game with a hat trick in the 87th minute, leading San Antonio to a 3-0 triumph to start off their regular season.
The first meeting of the season against the Switchbacks also featured a professional debut for midfielder Ollie Wright as he subbed on in the 85th minute. In the second match against the Switchbacks, Wright had another first. The former local collegiate talent finally earned his way to the starting XI against Colorado on June 5 and played the entire first half, totaling just over 45 minutes with the additional stoppage time. Wright showed well in his first professional start as he managed a 75% passing accuracy.
Despite San Antonio’s success at home, they have struggled on the road. Colorado was strong in the attack to begin the match on June 5 and found a goal within the first six minutes, leading 1-0 at halftime. Going into the second half, Colorado continued to dominate the game as they maintained a 55% possession rate, leaving SAFC with only 45% possession. SAFC again found themselves playing with ten men on the field as Patiño was ejected late in the first half. However, they were still evenly matched as defender for the Switchbacks, Michael Edwards was also ejected.
“Obviously Colorado Springs is a strong opponent,” said SAFC Head Coach, Alen Marcina. “Their attackers are extremely dangerous as predicted, but I’m proud of my guys to demonstrate resilient behaviors over the course of the 95 minutes. It was a well-earned point.”
For the first time in club history, SAFC named two Men of the Match. Firstly, goalkeeper, Matt Cardone again came out big for SAFC with four saves as he kept the Switchbacks to only one goal. Playing just in front of Cardone also limiting Colorado’s opportunities was the other Man of the Match, Joaquin Varela. Varela initially went off with a dislocated shoulder but returned to finish the game. He not only denied Zach Zandi from doubling the Switchback’s score in the second half but he also completed six clearances, 20 out of 25 passes, and he won 10 out of 15 duels.
“We talk a lot about grit and having a warrior mentality,” said Marcina. “For someone who dislocates their shoulder and puts themselves back in to help the club earn a point on the road shows a lot about his character.”
Earning SAFC their first point on the road was forward, Justin Dhillon who also made his club debut Saturday night. Dhillon subbed on in the 57th minute of the match and found a late goal for San Antonio in the 88th minute bringing the game to a 1-1 draw. Dhillon’s goal proved what happens to teams that cannot put the game away. As Colorado dominated the majority of the match and found several opportunities, they still were only able to find the back of the net one time throughout the entirety of the match. This allowed SAFC to punish the Switchbacks as they capitalized on one of the chances they produced.
“You take the positives you can get,” Dhillion said. “This is our first point on the road. It came with some challenges, but I think the team showed a lot of resilience and I think we can go up from here and take the momentum from the point.”
SAFC must have learned from their own mistake from just a week prior to their match against the Switchbacks. In San Antonio’s latest match against Rio Grande Valley (RGV) they too failed to put away the game. In the first game of the 2021 regular season that San Antonio out-possessed their opponent and found several goal-scoring opportunities, they only scored one goal. This gave RGV just enough of an opportunity to tie the game 1-1 as they found a late goal in the 89th minute.