SAN ANTONIO — Coming into the 2021 season, San Antonio FC Head Coach Alen Marcina wanted his team to build on their success from the 2020 season, which saw the club make their third postseason appearance in club history.
SAFC started the new season on a good note, defeating Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 3-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Santiago Patino and a solid defensive effort for 90-plus minutes.
The victory pushes San Antonio’s home winning streak to 14 games. SAFC went undefeated at home during the 2020 season with a 7-0-2 record.
“Its been a long time since we had fans in the building, so its an emotional night for everyone,” said SAFC Head Coach Alen Marcina. “This is three points that we earned and deserved, and we did it for our fans. I am incredibly pleased with the level of commitment. We asked the players to be focused, apply intensity and be resilient for 90-plus minutes and that’s what they did so I am incredibly proud of them.”
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Patino’s strong debut
Santiago Patino made his debut in an SAFC kit on Saturday night and became the first San Antonio FC player to score post a hat-trick since Ever Guzman in 2019.
Santiago got the scoring started in the 16th minute with a header off a Marcus Epps shot attempt, putting the ball past Colorado goalkeeper Abraham Rodriguez. He added his second goal just 12 minutes later with a goal past a sliding Rodriguez.
He added his third goal of the night in the 87th minute when he got ahead of the Colorado defense and slotted the ball home.
“It was a great feeling,” Santiago said. “As a team we have been working very hard for eight weeks. The coaching staff has done a great job to make sure we have the right mentality to attack the games and win. As a team, we did that today. We left everything on the field, and it was great to score.”
If Saturday is any indication, Santiago could prove to be deadly when paired with Jose Gallegos when the youngster gets back from his lower body injury.
Defense, defense, defense
It’s no secret that in seasons past San Antonio FC has struggled when leading early. They normally collapse late in the match and concede a late goal. Saturday night, Marcina’s club was locked in from the opening kick and did not let up.
Despite Colorado being much more aggressive in the second half and pushing the ball up field, SAFC got back and defended the net well. SAFC did not allow Colorado to set up their play and cleared the ball any time there was a dangerous play developing.
“Coming into a club like this makes it easy,” SAFC midfielder Cam Lindley said. “It makes you want to come to work every day. It makes you want to give 110 percent all the time for the staff, for the support staff, for the ownership group and everyone. The locker room is fantastic, and the group of guys bonded quickly. We live and die by our culture and that was in full effect tonight.”
SAFC stays home to find talent
During the offseason, San Antonio filled a majority of their roster with home grown talent, wanting to continue Marcina’s pledge to establish a solid identity and culture for the club. Goalkeeper Matt Cardone, a MacArthur High School product, started the match for SAFC. He finished Saturday’s game with his first clean sheet of the season and his 20th career shutout.
Cardone is just one of many home grown talents SAFC has on their roster for the 2021 season and Saturday’s performance may be the first of many great nights for the San Antonio squad this season.
San Antonio FC is now 1-0-0 (3 points) on the season and will return to the pitch next Saturday when they welcome Real Monarchs SLC (0-0-0) to Toyota Field at 7:30 P.M.