PHOENIX – San Antonio FC earned a 1-0 win over Phoenix Rising FC in front of 5,463 fans at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex on Saturday night, snapping a four-game winless streak.
The victory was the first for San Antonio since a 3-1 win over Tulsa Roughnecks FC back on June 17. Coming into Saturday’s match, SAFC was just 1-1-3 in their last five games, including three consecutive draws.
“Winning tonight was very important,” said SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo. “We needed this for ourselves, for the club, and for the fans. It’s not easy to come out against a good team like Phoenix, but it was a great performance from top to bottom, so I’m very proud of the guys and very happy to get three points.”
The first half saw both teams with solid scoring chances. Phoenix’s chance came in the 13th minute after Didier Drogba had a opportunity off a good cross, but Restrepo was there to make the save. SAFC’s best chance came just before halftime when midfielder Billy Forbes found Kris Tyrpak, who shot the ball towards the far post – but it was stopped by Rising FC keeper Josh Cohen.
Phoenix came out aggressive in the second half and nearly took the lead in the 68th minute. Restrepo challenged Cortez, leaving an empty net, but SAFC’s Ben Newnam headed the ball away out of danger.
SAFC was awarded a penalty after Cohen brought down San Antonio’s Cesar Elizondo with five minutes to go before stoppage time. SAFC midfielder Rafa Castillo stepped up and converted on the penalty kick in the 85th minute to give the visiting side the 1-0 lead and the victory.
“I’m very proud of our players for their application, desire, determination and character,” SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell said. “This was a very difficult environment to play in and against a good team. It came down to the wire but we’re glad we came away with the three points.”
Restrepo made four saves on the night, none bigger than a stop on Drogba in the 89th minute. The 29-year-old goalkeeper got his eighth clean sheet of the season and 11th overall for the club in the 2017 season.
It was also the first shutout for San Antonio in over a month, with the last one coming on June 10 in a 0-0 draw with OKC Energy FC.
It feels great,” SAFC defender Stephen McCarthy said of the clean sheet. “I think we’ve been underperforming the past few matches and that’s really frustrating, so it’s good to get the clean sheet.”
Match Notes: San Antonio FC midfielder Pecka returned from injury and played in his first match since June 17. Castillo’s goal was his fourth of the 2017 season and his ninth in a SAFC kit. Restrepo’s eight shutout’s are tied for the most in the league.
Up next: San Antonio FC is now 11-1-7 (40 points) on the season and will return to the pitch next Saturday night when they welcome Orange County SC to Toyota Field at 7:30 p.m.