SAFC’s surge keeps playoff hopes alive
San Antonio FC coach Darren Powell first delivered the message to his players three weeks ago in the midst of a tailspin that threatened to ruin a season that carried so much promise. He reitierated the point in recent weeks, and again on Saturday.
Don’t get caught up in the complexities of the United Soccer League playoff hunt - the number-crunching and the urge to log onto a computer to get updates on the latest scores and standings - Powell suggested. Instead, simply “control the controllable.”
SAFC did its part, and in doing so kept alive its hopes of advancing to the postseason.
Forward Ever Guzman scored twice as SAFC rallied past Las Vegas Lights FC 3-1 Saturday in a USL encounter before 6,471 at Toyota Field.
SAFC (14-12-7, 49 points) moved into eighth place in the Western Conference with one game left to play, only one point behind seventh-place Swope Park Rangers (14-11-8, 50 points). Saint Louis FC (13-9-10) is tied with SAFC but sits in ninth because of a tiebreaker. Saint Louis has two games left.
The local club needs Saint Louis either to lose one of its final two games or to play to draws in both or for Swope Park to tie or lose its final match to advance to the playoffs.
“We know we have to rely on other results, but we’re not worried about (other teams’) performances,” Powell said. “We can only concentrate on ourselves.”
SAFC tallied the final three goals after facing an early deficit to record its second straight win. Guzman scored two goals in 14 minutes overlapping the first and second halves. He scored the game-winner in the 48th minute when he ran onto a pass from Ethan Bryant and slotted a shot inside the left post. Guzman netted the tying goal in the 34th minute off a pass from midfielder Lance Laing, who concluded the scoring with an unassisted goal with 10 minutes remaining. Laing has five matches this season in which he scored and assisted on goals.
Guzman has 10 goals of the season, tying former midfielder Billy Forbes for the franchise’s single-season mark.
“The team showed some good resilience and focus to turn it around after going down,” Guzman said. “We’re waiting for results around the league, but we’re hoping they go our way, and we have to do what we need to do to control what we can.”
Las Vegas (7-18-7), which has already been eliminated from the playoffs, led 1-0 in the 12th minute as forward Samuel Ochoa put a pass from midfielder Rafael Garcia. It was the lone highlight for Las Vegas, which saw SAFC quickly grabbed control and earned its 10th win at home this season, a club record.
“The players are going to fight and scrap to the very last whistle,” Powell said. “That’s something we believe in as a group every year and it’s something these players have been able to do. Tonight was no different. The response from the players was fantastic. I felt we could come out and play better than we did in the first half, which I think we did. I thought the goals were well executed.”