San Antonio FC took on Queretaro FC in the first match of the 2021 SAFC International Showcase on Tuesday night at Toyota Field.
The starting XI looked different for SAFC on July 6 as they faced off against Queretaro FC. San Antonio’s squad featured both first-team and academy players. The youthful group showed well over the entirety of the match despite falling short 4-2.
“It seemed like they all had 100 games under their belt,” said Alen Marcina, SAFC head coach. “They played impressively and I’m very proud of them. A lot of them have only trained with us a few times and they really put in the work tonight.”
San Antonio started off strong with a goal from midfielder, Ollie Wright, in the 25th minute. The goal started from defender Ethan Bryant who forced a turnover that led to the counterattack. Nathan Fogaça dribbled into the opponent’s eighteen-yard box before he squared the ball to Wright. Staying calm, Wright took a preparation touch before slipping the ball past Queretaro’s keeper to put San Antonio up 1-0. Though it does not count towards his first professional goal, this was still a proud moment for Wright as he scored his first goal in an SAFC jersey.
Despite not always finding themselves in the starting XI, Wright and Fogaça have certainly proved themselves as assets to the team. Fogaça’s speed and ferociousness to attack combined with Wright’s vision and quick decision making make them a force to be reckoned with.
San Antonio did not keep the lead for long as Joe Gallardo leveled the game just two minutes later. However, SAFC fought hard to earn their lead back as Bradley Dildy fed Nathan the ball who doubled the score for San Antonio, putting them up 2-1. In earning an assist one of the SAFC Pro Academy players, Dildy, certainly made a name for himself Tuesday night.
San Antonio fought hard for the remainder of the match. An unfortunate goal in the 69th minute led to San Antonio’s demise. With only ten minutes remaining, they conceded twice more. Alfredo Ramirez scored in the 83rd minute and again in the 90th minute, bringing the final score to 4-2.
The scoreline does not reflect the impressive performance that San Antonio displayed. From the first-team players to the academy players it was a great team effort. The work ethic and grit that San Antonio exhibited Tuesday night inspired the young faces in the crowd. Even after a loss, young SAFC fans rushed the front rows for a chance to meet their favorite players.
“You’re going against very high-level competition and it’s not competition you’re going to see in the USL,” Marcina said. “So for our guys to go toe to toe with them with our incredibly young team, I’m proud of everyone and they made San Antonio proud tonight.”
After Tuesday’s performance the academy players can hopefully inspire the first team to carry this momentum when the team returns to USL play. With nine academy players featured throughout the match and ten in the overall squad, the young group proved that the future is bright for San Antonio.
“We tell players all the time that every day they have a platform, either in training, in friendly games, or in league games, and it’s about maximizing those opportunities,” Marcina said. “We believe in earning opportunities and some guys have now made my decisions difficult moving forward.”