There is a saying among football fans that 2-0 is the most dangerous lead in the game. That turned out to be exactly the case on Saturday night for Reno 1868 FC when San Antonio erased a two-goal first half deficit with two second half goals to close out a 3-2 SAFC come from behind win. It was the largest come-from-behind win of the year for SAFC. Since the start of the 2018 USL Championship season, SAFC has recorded seven comeback victories and eight overall in team history.
It was the first win for San Antonio in league play since April and it extended SAFC’s home unbeaten streak to six games. And it truly was a vital three points for the home team knowing what is in front of them.
Defender Kai Greene spoke about just how important the win was. “It is massive. The guys needed this, everybody needed this, the whole city needed this. You could tell the fans were a little anxious when we were down 2-0 and I don’t blame them. We had to put it upon ourselves to dig deep. We owe it to ourselves, the organization and to our fans who come out and support us day in and day out. We had to come together collectively. The young guys helped carry us, they did their jobs, they buried the goals that we needed, and we locked it in to stay 3-2 up the rest of the game.”
Greene nailed the scene exactly right. For 43 minutes it looked like San Antonio would put forth another dismal performance. They were trailing 2-0. They spent much of the first half dealing with relentless high pressure from Reno which caused them to struggle just to get the ball out of their end. But then SAFC got just what they needed from the most likely of places. All-time and season leading scorer for San Antonio FC, Ever Guzman, got on the end of a perfect pass from Greene. Right before the halftime whistle SAFC had life again as Guzman’s header hit the back of the net. It was his 22nd goal for SAFC in all competitions.
In the second half, the SAFC Academy kids went to work, dazzling the Toyota Field crowd with two goals in two minutes from Ethan Bryant and Jose Gallegos. They turned the match on its head and lead the way for the San Antonio victory. It was another glimpse of what this team could be, but so far, has not been for much of the season. Especially on the road.
“We don’t play well on the road. Can’t sugarcoat it. Like we did with this game (against Reno), we’ve got to grind,” said Defender Kai Greene. “We’ve got to get results.”
Their next opportunity is this Saturday night as San Antonio FC is right back on the road against OKC Energy in the first game of a two-match road trip.
OKC comes into this match having just wrapped up their own two match road trip in league play where they earned two straight draws. Probably most impressively, as San Antonio fans know all too well, away at New Mexico where they tied 1-1.
Overall, OKC has played to three straight draws in league play. Most recently they played away to FC Dallas on Wednesday night in the US Open Cup. They barely put up a fight, losing 4-0 to the MLS side. It has been a busy calendar for the Energy as of late, to say the least. Perhaps managing minutes ahead of a jam-packed week, OKC traveled to Fresno with the bare minimum 14 players on Saturday night and still managed a 1-1 draw.
As if that wasn’t enough, they also have the most players in all of USL Championship involved in the Gold Cup, which begins play on Saturday. Defenders Alvin Jones and Mekeil Williams and Forward Cordell Cato will represent Trinidad & Tobago. They will face the United States in Group play. Meanwhile Je-Vaughn Watson was named to the Jamaica squad.
Williams is a big loss on defense for Energy as he is second on the team with 41 clearances. And on the other side of the field, Cato is their third leading scorer with three goals and is tied for second with three assists. He is also third on the team in chances created. It definitely could be a fortuitous time for SAFC to catch OKC Energy on the schedule.
OKC Energy’s roster has some significant SAFC flair to it. Defender Max Gunderson and Forward Omar Gordon are former San Antonio FC players, and Defender Christian Ibeagha is the brother to former SAFC Defender -now NYC FC Defender- Sebastien Ibeagha. Gunderson has not played in a league match this season but Gordon is another story. Gordon is second on the team in goals and he leads the team in assists with six. He assisted on the match tying goal in Fresno last weekend:
Deshorn Brown leads OKC with eight goals which ties him for 4th in all of USL Championship. As a team OKC are fairly middle-of-the-road statistically, however. Their 21 goals scored are only two more than SAFC.
OKC Energy boasts one of the best keepers in all of USL with Cody Laurendi. He leads all of USL Championship with 49 saves and he also boasts a 74% success rate on saves. However, his three clean sheets are only good for 7th in the West – same as Matt Cardone for SAFC.
San Antonio FC needs to capitalize on what should be an OKC team with some weary legs after playing three straight road matches in eight days. San Antonio also has four extra days of rest this week on top of that. Will the young players get a chance to showcase their talents on the road? And with Pecka back healthy, can he add stability to a team that needs all they can handle on the road? If San Antonio wants to get on a run, it's as good of a place as any to finally take that next step.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (4-3-7) at OKC Energy FC (5-6-4)
Taft Stadium, Saturday June 15th, 2019
Kickoff 8:00pm Central Time
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC - 2019 Road Record 0-0-6
OKC Energy FC – 2019 Home Record 4-2-1
All Time History (W-D-L)
Saturday will mark the 10th all time meeting between these two clubs and the series has featured a whole lot of draws. Six of their eight league matchups have ended in a tie, with each team also winning one game. OKC is also the only team to defeat SAFC in the playoffs, knocking them out in the 2017 Western Semifinals in penalty kicks after, you guessed it, yet another full time draw. All time SAFC is 1-6-2 against OKC Energy.
6/15/19 @ OKC
9/14/19 @ SA
San Antonio FC got their first ever win against OKC Energy on July 28, 2018 winning 2-1. Philip Rasmussen opened the scoring for OKC in the 58’ but two SAFC goals in the final 17 minutes of the match from a Mikey Lopez Penalty Kick and Ever Guzman sent San Antonio home with all three points.
Here are the match highlights:
SAFC Wins If :
…if they can carry the momentum of a strong second half performance from Saturday night out on the road and if they can capitalize on a short-handed and overworked OKC Energy team.
Midfielder Jose Gallegos was named to USL Championship Team of the Week on Tuesday for his performance against Reno 1868 FC on Saturday night.
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE / INSTAGRAM @PEAKACTION
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER