SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio FC rallied from an early deficit to earn a 2-1 victory over Liga MX champions Santos Laguna in front of 7,041 fans at Toyota Field on Sunday night.
The victory is the first for SAFC in international competition and the club avenged a loss against Santos last season when they fell in penalty kicks.
“Santos is a fantastic team,” SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell said. “They’re top quality opposition and they gave us many problems throughout the course of the game. But when you play with the hunger, desire, and togetherness from every man on the roster this team has shown well. I can’t speak highly enough of our players, their performance, and their efforts tonight.”
The match saw end-to-end action in the first half as both teams had several shots on target and their attacks were strong. It was the visiting side that took advantage of a breakaway in the 16th minute as Djaniny beat SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo to put Santos up 1-0. San Antonio answered right back less than a minute later when Mike Seth headed home the equalizer to make it 1-1 in the 17th minute.
Kyle Murphy had a chance to put the home side up a goal but his shot rang off the crossbar in the 33rd minute of play. The two clubs would head to the locker room even at one goal apiece after 45 minutes of fast-paced action.
The second half saw SAFC make five substitutions, including Matt Cardone coming in for Restrepo. Meanwhile, at one point Santos would sub out all 11 players on the pitch for a new squad.
The two teams would remain level despite solid chances from both sides until late in the match. The 80th minute saw that change as Ever Guzman poked the ball into the net as the ball came down right in front of his foot, putting San Antonio up 2-1.
Santos would try and get the equalizer as they pushed their attack in stoppage time but Cardone came up big for SAFC as they got the win.
“It’s really important to earn a win against a team that comes in as the Liga MX champion,” Guzman said through a translator. “It was a tough challenge but it’s really motivating for us moving forward. We had a good night tonight and we’re ready to go back to USL play.”
San Antonio will now head back into league play to begin the unofficial second half of the 2018 season. SAFC currently sits 10th in the Western Conference table, just three points behind Colorado Springs for eighth place.
“Overall it was a good team performance, and hopefully it carries over into league play because that’s where we need to ultimately perform,” SAFC forward Mike Seth said.