SAN ANTONIO – Towards the end of the 2018 season, many SAFC fans were asking when 2019 would begin. Saturday night saw the start of the new campaign and the team performance should leave everyone optimistic.
San Antonio FC opened the 2019 USL Championship season with a 3-3 draw against Phoenix Rising FC (0-0-1) in front of a sellout crowd of 8,058 fans at Toyota Field.
“Tonight was very positive from our guys,” SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell said. “As a group, our players should take a lot of positives from tonight’s performance, and as we continue to improve I think we’re going to see some good soccer from these players.”
San Antonio opened the scoring just nine minutes in when Lance Laing found Ever Guzman, who slotted the ball past the Phoenix goalkeeper to put the home side up a goal. Phoenix answered when Junior Flemings beat SAFC goalkeeper Matt Cardone in the 22nd minute to level the score at a goal apiece.
SAFC took the lead back in the 40th minute when he dribbled his way into the box and put home a laser of a goal for his 11th goal all-time with the club. Rising FC leveled the score less than three minutes later as Adam Jahn scored just before halftime to make it 2-2 at the break.
The match was tighter in the second half and a mistake from Phoenix would give SAFC the late lead. Jahn tried to clear Jack Barmby’s corner kick in the 80th minute but the ball would go into the Rising FC net, putting San Antonio up 3-2. In stoppage time, former SAFC forward Jason Johnson burned his old club as he got the equalizer to finish the game 3-3.
Here is what went good and bad for SAFC, as well as three standout players: Billy Forbes, Ever Guzman, and Lance Laing.
- San Antonio’s offense looked solid to start the season, scoring twice on the night.
- Lance Laing and Ever Guzman’s connection looks to be just fine as Laing assisted on Guzman’s first goal of the season.
- Despite giving up the late goal, SAFC has improved defensively. If you look back at last season, the result probably would have gone Rising FC’s way. That was not the case on Saturday.
- SAFC’s record against Phoenix all-time improved to 4-2-2.
- The sellout crowd was electric. What energy at Toyota Field.
- Phoenix’s second goal looked like a breakdown by SAFC on the defensive side of the ball. Jahn placed the ball into a wide open net. It is early with a brand new backline, so it will be interesting to see how things will improve.
- The third Phoenix goal after a great save by Cardone. However, a lack of communication saw him get no help as Johnson slotted the ball home.
Three Standout Players:
The Mexican striker could have had two goals if he had been onside in the fourth minute. However, Guzman scored the first goal of the 2019 season for SAFC, making it his 16th overall for the club.
“It is very early in the season,” Powell said. “The group is very determined and you saw that tonight. We’re just excited to come in Monday and great ready for the next one.”
Guzman should have better scoring chances this season and if Saturday is any sign of things to come, he is primed to have a stellar run as the spring turns into summer.
Laing had the assist on Guzman’s goal and it showed their connection is going to be just as strong as ever.
He helped set up various chances for his teammates and had three shots of his own in the match. There is no doubt that San Antonio will have scoring options this season with Laing, Guzman, and Forbes on the pitch.
The fan favorite returned home and would get a goal in his first game of the season. Forbes used his signature speed and crafty footwork that fans have come to expect.
His goal was the 11th goal for him in an SAFC kit and he looked true to form doing so. He was playing on the right side of the pitch but is used to using his left foot. As the season goes on, that might be something to keep an eye on.
“I wanted to score because that’s my former team and I wanted to make a statement, but overall as a team we’re not happy with the result,” Forbes said. “We felt we deserved the win the game, but it’s the first one of the season and we’re going to learn from it and move on.”
San Antonio FC is now 0-0-1 (1 point) on the season and will return to the pitch next Saturday when they welcome Portland Timbers 2 (0-0-1) to Toyota Field at 7:30 pm Central Time.