For San Antonio FC's first ever home opener in team history it was Fireworks night at Toyota Field. But the sellout crowd of 8,058 - the fifth highest attendance in SAFC's history - didn't need any post game fireworks, because there were plenty on the pitch. It was a thrilling season opening match that ended in a 3-3 tie with Phoenix Rising FC.
San Antonio looked to be on their way to victory in added time in the second half when Phoenix Forward Jason Johnson spoiled the party. It had to be Johnson, of course. The player best known here in San Antonio as the first ever goal scorer in SAFC history made sure his old team hasn't forgotten him as he delivered a game tying header in the third minute of added time. And just like that, three points became one point for San Antonio FC.
Manager Darren Powell was far from discouraged with the performance despite the result, saying after the match “Tonight was very positive from our guys. As a group, our players should take a lot of positives from tonight’s performance, and as we continue to improve I think we’re going to see some good soccer from these players.”
It looked like the San Antonio offense was going to get a speedy start to the season when the ball found the back of the net in the third minute, only to be whistled offside. Six minutes later, they did cash in for real. Laing powered his way down the end line towards the six and found an open Guzman for the easy tap in to open the scoring in the ninth minute. The goal was Guzman's 16th for SAFC, extending his own lead in that category.
Phoenix hit right back in the 22' when Soloman Asante delivered a beautiful long ball to fellow Forward Junior Flemmings, beating Defender Kai Greene on the play despite the fact that Greene had him well covered.
Billy Forbes answered in the 40' making a nifty move in the box and bringing his shot back the other way, finding the top corner of the net perfectly. It was his 11th goal for SAFC which ties him for second on the all time SAFC scoring list with Rafa Castillo.
Forbes knew he wanted to make a big impact on the match. “I wanted to score because that’s my former team and I wanted to make a statement, but overall as a team we’re not happy with the result. We felt we deserved to win the game, but it’s the first one of the season and we’re going to learn from it and move on.”
Forbes was named Man of the Match for his performance in the game.
Just three minutes later Junior Fleming found a wide open Adam Jahn in the six for an easy goal for Phoenix and it was all locked up at 2-2 at the halftime break.
Adam Jahn would be involved in the next goal in the match too, for all the wrong reasons. In the 80' off a Jack Barmby corner kick, Jahn went skyward to head the ball away from danger, but instead he delivered it into the far corner of his own net for an own-goal and a 3-2 San Antonio lead.
That set up Johnson's dramatic tying header in the 93', delivered on a platter from Midfielder Kevon Lambert.
Defender Kai Greene was understandably disappointed in the result, but also quite optimistic for the team. "It was disappointing to end that game with a draw. We felt we should’ve won that game but we had a lot of mental errors that we were punished for, and good teams will do that. Overall we felt positive, we’re going to clean up those mistakes and score two or three goals on opponents, which will turn into wins once we clean up our mistakes in the back.”
San Antonio FC will get their next chance on Saturday night back home against Portland Timbers 2.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT:
SAFC: 1-0, Ever Guzman (Lance Laing assist) 9’
PRFC: 1-1, Junior Flemmings (Solomon Asante) 22’
SAFC: 2-1, Billy Forbes (Pecka assist) 40’
PRFC: 2-2, Adam Jahn (Junior Flemmings assist) 42’
SAFC: 3-2, Own Goal (Adam Jahn) 80’
PRFC: 3-3, Jason Johnson (Kevon Lambert) 90’
PRFC: Yellow Card (Kevon Lambert 33’)
SAFC: Yellow Card (Kai Greene 59’)
PRFC: Yellow Card (Adam Jahn 61’)
PRFC: Yellow Card (Junior Flemmings 75’)
PRFC: Yellow Card (Doueugui Mala 78’)
PRFC: Yellow Card (Mustapha Dumbuya) 82’
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER