SAN ANTONIO (PSN) — San Antonio FC closed out the 2021 USL Championship regular season the same way they started it, with a 3-0 shutout win over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Toyota Field on Saturday night.
With the victory, San Antonio clinched the second seed in the Mountain Division and earned a second consecutive home playoff match.
“We love our fans. They are so passionate,” SAFC Head Coach Alen Marcina said. “You can feel the energy they bring, and they push our players. It helps with our crowd with our fans. We love them and we do this for them. We are thankful, grateful, and excited we get to host in the first round.”
San Antonio opened the scoring just five minutes into the match when an own goal from Colorado’s Michael Edwards gave SAFC the lead. That score would hold going into the second half, where the home side would turn it on.
Jose Gallegos closed the door just a minute into the second half when he took the ball from Nathan and chipped it over the goalkeeper to put San Antonio up two goals. A mad scramble at the Colorado goal resulted in a header by Kortne Ford, putting SAFC up 3-0 late.
Here are three standout moments from SAFC’s win over Colorado:
Finish how you start
San Antonio closed the regular season how they started by defeating Colorado 3-0. It was the second straight clean sheet for SAFC, which had Carlos Mercado make his professional debut in place of Matt Cardone, who left the match with an injury.
Mercado getting experience is huge if Cardone will be unable to go in the playoffs on Friday.
“I’ve been working really really hard,” Mercado said of his debut. “I left home when I was 12 to play soccer, and SAFC gave me the opportunity and now I made my debut. I’m going to enjoy it, but tomorrow it is done and we have to keep working for the championship.”
The difference a year makes
Last season, SAFC hosted a playoff match against New Mexico but due to the pandemic, only a select group of fans were allowed in. Now, it is likely SAFC will have a bigger crowd and Gallegos says the loss last year still sticks with the group as a collective.
“Last year we went out in an unfortunate way,” Gallegos said. “For the players that are still here from last year, it stuck with us. This year we look to learn from that and with the team we have, the boys are very confident, and I think we will do very good in the upcoming matches.”
Next man up
Marcina has talked about adversity all season and San Antonio faced that again with Cardone going out in the match. However, it is the next man up if he’s unable to go and the coach is confident in his players.
San Antonio FC will host the San Diego Loyal for the first time in franchise history on Friday night at 8 pm when they open the 2021 USL Championship Playoffs at Toyota Field.
Story updated to include San Antonio FC’s opponent in the USL Championship Quarterfinals.