For the second time this season San Antonio FC (6-6-8) and Orange County SC (5-8-7) played to a 0-0 draw. It was a tightly contested game that saw few quality opportunities for both teams but in the end it would be bathed in controversy.
In second half added time SAFC Forward Frank Lopez was played through by Billy Forbes and seemingly scored the match winner in dramatic fashion. Instead, Referee Lorant Varga waived off the goal, issued a red card to Orange County's Leonardo for bringing down Forbes, and brought the ball back for a SAFC free kick instead of allowing the advantage and the goal.
It was a cruel decision for a SAFC team that has already faced much adversity on the road in 2019. Unfortunately, this will only add to the story of their woes away from home.
In the 72' Lopez was also involved in another big chance. He broke free behind the OC-SC defense which left him one on one with Keeper Aaron Cervantes. Cervantes came out and seemed to do just enough to affect the shot and Lopez sent his chance wide of the net, much to his and SAFC's disbelief.
Regardless of the miss, Lopez was once again the best player on the field for SAFC, displaying a level of hustle that didn't fade despite playing 90 minutes for the second time in four nights. It was an impressive overall effort. If anyone else came close, it was certainly Keeper Matt Cardone who came up with two gigantic point blank saves, one in each half, to maintain the clean sheet.
SAFC Manager Darren Powell echoed that sentiment after the match. "I thought our guys played very well to keep the clean sheet on the road. It's a positive point on the road and now we're looking forward to being back at home with our fans next Saturday."
It was a tough opening half for San Antonio FC who didn't even register their first shot of the match until the 22'. Both teams basically picked up right where they left off when they played to a 0-0 draw at Toyota Field in May - resilient defense at both ends.
Orange County had the majority of the pressure and more opportunities in the opening half, but none of them tested SAFC Goal Keeper Matt Cardone with much difficulty until the last one. That's when Cardone would make a split second reaction save on a point blank attempt from Orange County Forward Michael Seaton. The attempt came off a sequence started by an OC-SC corner kick in the 45'.
San Antonio's best chance would come a few minutes earlier, in the 42', from a Billy Forbes free kick just outside the OC-SC box. Ultimately it sailed off target harmlessly. That left the opening frame as the third scoreless half of the season between the two clubs. Both teams combined for only 9 shots in the opening half.
In the second half Lopez, would get off a shot in the 51' that went inches wide of the Orange County net. It would signal the start of a much better attacking half of football from San Antonio FC.
At the other end of the field, Cardone would come up big again in the 60' when Orange County Forward Darwin Jones would have a point blank header attempt on the San Antonio goal. Once again Cardone's reflexes were up to the task and he would make another clutch save to keep the game scoreless.
Later, Lopez would miss his big chance and have his dramatic winner waived off and for the second time this year, these two teams were left to share the points in a game that would end 0-0. San Antonio was left to ponder "what if..." as two more road points slipped away.
Matt Cardone had a positive outlook after the match. "I thought we had a good team performance, especially after playing on Wednesday and traveling again. We put in another shift and played well, and we came out with a hard-earned road point."
San Antonio FC are now unbeaten in four straight USL Championship games.
San Antonio FC returns home on Saturday night to face Real Monarchs at Toyota Field. SAFC will play 4 of their next 5 at home.
OCSC: Yellow Card (Harry Forrester) 29'
SAFC: Yellow Card (Crisitan Parano) 57'
OCSC: Yellow Card (Kevin Alston) 67'
SAFC: Yellow Card (Jack Barmby) 90'
OCSC: Red Card (Leonardo) 90'
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE / INSTAGRAM: @PEAKACTION
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER