Maybe San Antonio FC just needed some winning mojo in the building to finally get their first victory of the season. On Spurs theme night, with former Spurs player Matt Bonner holding court, the Spurs five Championship Trophies beaming down on Toyota Field from the Sky Suite, and the Spurs Coyote gleefully launching t-shirts from a cannon to the delight of SAFC fans - San Antonio FC delivered in the biggest of ways, hanging on to defeat Las Vegas Lights FC 2-1 to earn their first victory of the season. A much needed first win after an opening month that left the team in 17th place and with only one point.
In one 90 minute grudge match, all of that is behind them now.
San Antonio FC got goals from Forward Bradford Jamieson and Forward Ever Guzman to lift San Antonio to the win.
SAFC also got a massive break in the second half when an apparent goal for Las Vegas was waived off - very late - for offside. It was a pivotal moment in the match. Instead of knotting the game up at 1-1, SAFC would maintain their one goal advantage, and then ten minutes later Ever Guzman would seal the victory.
Las Vegas would get a late penalty in added time for handball on Defender Johnny Fenwick. Forward Irvin Parra scored the PK for Vegas, but they were out of time to secure any thoughts of tying the match as the ref whistled for "full time" on the ensuing kickoff.
Nobody specifically mentioned the word "relief" after the match, but that's how it felt around the locker room after the game. Manager Darren Powell was very pleased, saying "I’m extremely proud of the players and coaching staff for their hard work this week, which paid dividends for the players after coming out and giving 100% effort and commitment during the whole game.”
Of course, a different lineup and formation were huge factors as well. Back in goal was Matt Cardone, but more important was a shift in formation. SAFC employed a 3-4-3 against Las Vegas. The three man back line allowed Defender Kai Greene to push up into a Midfield role and he wrecked havoc on the right wing all game long. And in a complete reversal from last week when zero true Forwards started the match, Powell deployed both (Guzman, Jamieson) in attack formation alongside Midfielder Brian Gomez who pushed up into a Forward role. The results speak for themselves.
Two goals, the most in any match since the opener. And nearly a clean sheet if not for the late penalty. San Antonio FC yet again giving up a goal in the final 15 minutes of a match. That is something that has happened every week and remains an issue going forward. But this was not the night to be nitpicky, with three points secured for the first time in 2019.
Forward Bradford Jamieson knows this could be a season changer for the team, saying “The first win re-boosts all of our confidence and focus, and it reassures us that we all have what it takes to do it on a regular basis. Sometimes you have to prove that to yourself so it was a big match for us.”
Jamieson kickstarted the evening for SAFC in the 16' when a back pass attempt by Vegas Defender Javan Torre went awry and a hustling Jamieson made them pay, pouncing on the weak pass and hammering it past Vegas Keeper Thomas Olsen for his first ever SAFC goal and a 1-0 lead.
In the 72', things got wild. On a Las Vegas corner kick, the ball deflected out of the box to a wide open Mobi Fehr. Fehr took an awkward touch but got just enough pace on the ball to get it past a cluster of bodies including SAFC Keeper Matt Cardone. Las Vegas Lights were all the way to the sideline in celebration of what they thought was a game tying goal before anyone seemed to realize the goal had been disallowed for offside.
Asked about the call after the game, Cardone replied with a grin, "Of course, I think the ref made the right call."
It may have been good fortune for San Antonio, but they would make Vegas pay, too. In the 83' Midfielder Jack Barmy delivered a picture perfect pass through the middle of the field to a streaking Ever Guzman who juked around Olsen and tapped in the eventual match winner for a 2-0 San Antonio lead.
In added time, Fenwick would commit his handball penalty and Vegas would close the gap to 2-1, but it was too little too late as San Antonio closed out the win.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT:
SAFC: 1-0, Bradford Jamieson IV 16’
SAFC: 2-0, Ever Guzman (Jack Barmby assist) 23’
LVLFC: 2-1, Irvin Parra (penalty) 90’
LVLFC: Yellow Card (Christian Torres) 44’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Jack Barmby) 45’
LVLFC: Yellow Card (Javan Torre) 45’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Ever Guzman) 70’
LVLFC: Yellow Card (Edwin Rivas) 74’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Matthew Cardone) 89’
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER, DARREN ABATE /USL PHOTOGRAPHER