SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio FC opened up a brand new year of soccer with a new head coach and a new squad, earning a 1-0 win over reigning champions Real Monarchs SLC (0-1-0) in front of 7,020 gracious fans at Toyota Field on Saturday night.
The win was the first for new head coach Alen Marcina, who takes over for Darren Powell after four seasons. The victory also saw SAFC keep their undefeated record in home openers intact, going 3-0-2 all-time.
“They’re the reigning champions and we knew it was going to be a difficult challenge,” Marcina said. “We saw it as a great opportunity to start the season going against them. We wanted to put on a good show for the fans and hopefully, they left excited after tonight.”
Despite neither team finding the back of the net in the first half, San Antonio had some solid scoring chances and their defense did not allow Real to get a shot on target until the 28th minute of play.
SAFC broke the scoreless drought in the second half and it would be enough to grab all three points. Forward Luis Solignac received the ball and found Callum Montgomery, who slid the ball home, putting the home side up a goal.
Three Standout Players
The newcomer scored in his SAFC debut and it turned out to be the game-winner for the club. Apart from the goal, he added a key pass, two tackles, two clearances, one interception, and won 87.5 percent of his duels.
“To get a clean sheet is the most important thing as a backline to help our team win, and the boys are ecstatic in (the locker room) right now,” Montgomery said. “All the hard work throughout preseason came together tonight and that was the performance we put together. Great start to the season.”
The goalkeeper did not get much work in the first half but he played a big part in helping SAFC get the win on Saturday in their season opener. He made two big saves and was active in the net and read the ball well.
Cardone’s play combined with a solid backline is a major key for SAFC’s success this season and Marcina says the defense is a key part of the team’s identity moving forward.
“As a collective, I think we’re very excited,” Marcina said. “I believe there was a clear identity shown tonight. Keeping a clean sheet is always very positive, but it was a collective effort from the front to the back and vice versa. We’re happy with the result of course, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The youngster was locked up for the foreseeable future during the offseason and his performance on Saturday night is just a glimpse of what’s to come. Gallegos sliced and diced his way through the Real defense, set up teammates for shot attempts, and used his speed to get loose on the run. The potential of him and Cristian Parano together could make SAFC very dangerous for opponents.
“It’s definitely a tough decision, but I knew it was the right moment to do it and it was best for my future,” Gallegos said of his new contract. “I’m happy with that decision and I just look to continue to perform.”
San Antonio FC is now 1-0-0 (3 points) on the season and will return to the pitch next Saturday when they face Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (1-0-0) at 4 p.m. at Weidner Field.