SAN ANTONIO — After snapping a seven-match winless streak over the weekend, San Antonio FC returned home and showed their new-found form to a highly talented New Mexico United squad and a national audience.
A brace from Nathan led SAFC to a convincing 3-0 win over New Mexico United on Wednesday night in a rematch of last season’s playoff quarterfinal match.
The victory is the second straight for San Antonio, who moved within a point of the final playoff spot in the midst of a tough schedule on the horizon.
“We were performing in recent matches and we weren’t executing, “said SAFC Head Coach Alen Marcina. “We didn’t deny that. We have to be held accountable and we weren’t executing. Since the friendlies against top Liga MX teams, we were not only performing but also executing. We earned the three points against an excellent New Mexico team tonight.”
San Antonio opened the scoring in the 35th minute when Jose Gallegos beat his defender and sent a low cross to a wide-open Nathan for the finish, giving him his third goal in two games.
The Gallegos-Nathan connection found another goal in the 63rd minute when the 19-year-old sent a perfect through-ball to the Brazilian, who beat the entire backline down the field and put home a finish into the open net, giving San Antonio full control of the match.
Gallegos got in on the scoring in stoppage time when he weaved his way through the New Mexico defense and put home a shot in the left corner of the net, sealing the victory for SAFC.
Here are three points from Wednesday’s win versus New Mexico:
Turning over a new leaf
SAFC snapped a franchise-high seven-game winless streak with a win over Colorado Springs last Saturday, using a new 4-2-3-1 formation and it was a recipe for success. They used that same formation on Wednesday night and it resulted in their most complete game this season.
From the opening whistle, SAFC looked ready to go. They defended well and made the most of their chances. With two tough tests on the slate next week, this new look for the club will see if they can compete with some of the best in the league.
“We have to stick to the game plan and hope that the goals and assists will come,” Gallegos said. “It’s about believing in that and today really paid off.”
Nathan’s run over the last two matches has to be an encouraging sign for Marcina and his squad. He put the ball into the back of the net twice on Wednesday night, giving him four goals in the last two matches.
He added four shots and an 84.6% passing accuracy.
“Nathan has been performing and working incredibly hard on both sides of the ball,” Marcina said. There’s a transition period and no one has a crystal ball to determine when that transition will happen. We do have a good environment to help people with that transition, and it’s fortunate for us that the transition has happened smoothly.”
With back-to-back wins under their belt, SAFC faces two tough tests in the next week. First, against El Paso Locomotive at home and then on the road against Austin. If the club can put together performances like they have these last two games, it’ll give them prime position to get back into the playoff race.
“Believing in ourselves and in our game plan all the way through has been paying off lately,” Gallegos said. “We just have to keep going and keep the momentum going.”
San Antonio FC is now 4-3-6 (18 points) on the season and will return to the pitch next Wednesday at 7:30 PM against El Paso Locomotive (7-1-3) at Toyota Field.