OKLAHOMA CITY – San Antonio FC used a strong second half to earn a 2-1 victory over OKC Energy FC (6-11-5) at Taft Stadium on Saturday night.
The victory was the third straight for San Antonio, who completes a stretch of three games in eight days undefeated. Overall, SAFC has gone undefeated in four of its last five matches.
“I’m extremely proud of the players’ application to earn three wins over the past eight days,” SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell said. “It’s great to come to OKC and earn our first victory against this good organization and a well-coached team. We’re pleased to earn the three points and to show the character that we did tonight to earn a win after going a goal down.”
After a defensive first half from both clubs, the home side was the first to strike in the second 45 minutes. Philip Rasmussen converted on a beautiful free kick from 20 yards out to put OKC up a goal. Just over 15 minutes later, SAFC midfielder Connor Presley was taken down in the box, setting up a penalty kick for San Antonio. Mikey Lopez stepped up and buried the PK to level the score 1-1 in the 73rd minute.
SAFC took the lead for good in the 81st minute when Charlie Ward sent in a cross that found Ever Guzman for the goal, making it his third of the season. OKC would try to get the equalizer late off a shot from Christian Volesky but SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo would parry the ball way to preserve all three points for San Antonio.
Here is what went good and bad for SAFC on Saturday, as well as three standout players: Charlie Ward, Mikey Lopez, and Ever Guzman.
- SAFC continues its strong start to the second half of the USL season, winning its third straight. San Antonio has gone 3-1-1 over its last five matches and as a result, have moved into eighth place in the Western Conference.
- Ever Guzman scored the game-winning goal late in the second half, marking his third of the season. SAFC will hope that Guzman will start getting into the scoring column more often as the second half of the season rolls on.
- San Antonio finally defeated Energy FC, making it the first win over the side in club history. Overall, SAFC has gone 1-1-6 all-time against OKC in the regular season since the two sides began their rivalry back in 2016.
- Charlie Ward continues to play solid in his time on the pitch. More on that in a moment.
- Credit the OKC defense but San Antonio could not get much offense going in the first half. Both defenses were solid and few scoring chances were seen in the opening 45 minutes.
- SAFC’s injury report grew a tad longer on Saturday as Pecka, Rafa Castillo, Cesar Elizondo, and Ryan Felix all missed the match with lower body injuries. Meanwhile, Jose Escalante and Darnell King both were suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation.
Three Standout Players:
After sparking the club towards the end of the 2017 season’s playoff run and leading the club in goals in the preseason, Ever Guzman has yet to really make his mark on the 2018 season.
Perhaps he can get things going as the page turns into the second half of the season. Guzman had the game-winning goal on Saturday, making the tally his third of 2018. The 30-year-old forward has spent much of the season on the injured list but Powell and the club will hope he continues to light up the scoreboard.
“It’s big to earn our third win in a week,” SAFC defender Cyprian Hedrick said. “This was a big result to earn nine points (in three matches) and put us on the right track.”
Ward was signed last month to the club and is quickly making a name for himself on both sides of the ball. With SAFC’s offense inconsistent at times throughout the season, it is a welcome sign to see him find the back of the net.
After scoring his first goal of the season in San Antonio’s 4-2 win over Real Monarchs last Saturday, he added another tally to his resume: an assist. Ward’s cross into the box that led to Guzman’s goal marked the first assist for the English native. He also recorded a 100 percent passing accuracy, completing all 65 of his attempts in the win.
Things have turned around quickly for us, and after our match against Orange County we got together as a group and said that we needed to put things right, and we’ve done our talking on the pitch,” Ward said. “We could talk all day in the locker room, but we went out and got nine points in three games and we want to carry that into next Saturday because we’re still not where we want to be.”
After scoring two goals in SAFC’s first two matches of the season, Mikey Lopez seemed to have disappeared off the scoring side. The second half of the campaign seems like the right time for him to pick up where he left off.
Lopez leveled the match at 1-1 in the second half after his teammate Connor Presley was taken down in the box. Lopez stepped up and converted the PK for his third goal of the season. Powell and SAFC will hope Lopez and Guzman can continue to score goals and help out Omar Gordon in carrying a bulk of the offensive firepower.
“It’s big for us,” Hedrick said. “We’re on a high right now and we have a lot of momentum, and now we need to carry that on to our match against LA Galaxy II next weekend.”
San Antonio FC is now 8-5-7 (31 points) on the season and will return to the pitch next Saturday when they welcome LA Galaxy II (5-11-4, 19 points) to Toyota Field at 7:30 p.m. CT.