Local players come up big for SAFC in crucial win
San Antonio FC coach Darren Powell understands it is cliché, but at this juncture semantics weren’t important.
As Powell and his team Saturday played the first of three straight home matches to end the regular season, they did so aware that everything hung in the balance. Keeping tabs on scores and standings was fruitless if they didn’t take care of their own business.
SAFC mastered its part, receiving crucial contributions from three Alamo City natives to grab a 3-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC 2 in a United Soccer League contest before 7,614 at Toyota Field.
The local club kept alive its postseason hopes with the win, played before the second-largest crowd this season. SAFC (13-12-7, 46 points) is in ninth place in the Western Conference, only three points behind eighth-place Saint Louis FC (13-9-10, 49 points) with two games left for likely the final playoff spot. Saint Louis FC lost 2-0 Saturday to Phoenix Rising FC.
“We have to take it one game at a time,” Powell said after his squad snapped a three-match losing streak. “We really want to make sure we get three wins in these last few games, but we can’t get to three if we don’t get one or two. The bottom line is we’re focused on the next game and we need to be ready for our next matchup (vs. Las Vegas Lights FC) on Saturday, and hopefully we keep putting pressure on the teams that are around us to secure that final playoff spot.”
SAFC built a 2-0 advantage midway through the first half, saw it cut in half just before halftime, then added an insurance goal in the match’s waning moments to prevail.
Teenager Ethan Bryant tallied the game-winner in the 26th minute when he volleyed in a pass from Lance Laing. It was the first professional goal for the 17-year-old Bryant, who two years ago played at Brandeis, making him the youngest player in club history to score a goal in USL competition.
Maxi Rodriguez, a Warren product, notched his first goal in the 90th minute to conclude the scoring. Goalkeeper Matt Cardone, a MacArthur graduate, had four saves.
Laing put SAFC ahead for good in the 19th minute when he tapped in a pass from Ever Guzman.
“It’s a special moment I’ll remember forever,” Bryant said of his milestone goal. “But most importantly, we’re happy with the three points and we’re going to keep fighting for the playoffs.”
Azriel Gonzales scored Seattle’s lone goal in the 45th minute.