San Antonio FC (10-7-11) cruised to a 3-1 victory over OKC Energy FC (9-10-10) in front of 6,759 fans at Toyota Field on Saturday night. It was only the third win for either team in what has been 10 tightly contested meetings in USL Championship play between these two regional rivals. The win was also San Antonio FC's 10th victory of the season.
For San Antonio FC, the story of the night were the new faces. Some of whom were actually old faces. With four players injured, two more out on card suspensions, and two more who have left the club in the last two weeks, SAFC was running short on bodies. In fact, neither team was able to fill out a full 18-man match roster, with SAFC going with 17 players and OKC Energy only dressing 15.
Enter Rafa Castillo into the starting lineup for San Antonio. It was his first start in a league match for SAFC this entire season and his first league appearance since April. And naturally, he would score the game's first goal off a Cristian Parano Assist. It was his first league goal in over a year. But it was a historic one. Castillo has now scored in all four SAFC seasons.
Rafa was grateful for the opportunity. “It’s been four months since I last played, so to get the opportunity was really special and to be able to contribute with goals that helped the team earn the three points is even bigger. Beyond going out there and proving to myself that I can still contribute, I’m happy to have helped my teammates to an important victory that’s significant to where we want to be and our targets. I’m just happy to contribute to this club.”
Joining Castillo in the SAFC lineup was another familiar face that hadn't been seen on the field in a long while; Midfielder turned coach Ryan Roushandel. Roushandel was signed earlier in the day and started on the bench, but did play 30 minutes. Maybe a bit ironically, he replaced Castillo. The addition of Roushandel speaks to how badly SAFC needed bodies but also is a huge testament to the work ethic and fitness of the SAFC fan favorite who seemingly can do everything for San Antonio FC. It was a welcome sign to see both players back on the field for the black and silver.
But that wasn't all. SAFC also added a new player this week, Forward Tony Taylor. The 30 year old comes with MLS experience as well as USL Championship experience with Ottawa Fury. Taylor got in 15 minutes of work and played very aggressively, quickly firing off two shots that were well saved by one of the league's best Keepers in OKC's Cody Laurendi.
Taylor was all smiles after his SAFC debut. “I’m very happy and pleased, but most importantly I’m happy for the team and that we got the victory. I’m thankful that I was able to help contribute and that we got the win.”
After Rafa opened the scoring in the 12', Frank Lopez would double San Antonio's lead just 14 minutes later. It was the 6th goal for Lopez in a SAFC uniform and his 12th of the season. Just after halftime OKC's Captain Atiba Harris would head in a goal into the back of his own net to extend SAFC's lead to 3-0.
SAFC would lose the clean sheet in the 78' when they gave up a penalty. OKC's scoring leader Deshorn Brown scored his penalty kick to get OKC on the board, but they would not get any closer as SAFC closed out the win with little trouble.
San Antonio FC is back on the road for two straight matches starting Friday night when they'll travel to southern California to take on Los Angeles Galaxy II. It will be a homecoming for two Galaxy owned players on loan to SAFC, Forwards Frank Lopez and Bradford Jamieson IV. However, Jamieson IV is out for the season with an injury.
San Antonio FC has two home matches remaining in 2019.
SAFC: 1-0, Rafa Castillo (Cristian Parano assist) 12’
SAFC: 2-0, Frank Lopez (Cristian Parano assist) 26’
SAFC: 3-0, Own Goal (Atiba Harris) 48’
OKC: 3-1, Deshorn Brown (penalty) 78’
OKC: Yellow Card (Jevaughn Watson) 36’
OKC: Yellow Card (Christian Ibeagha) 44’
OKC: Yellow Card (Omar Gordon) 78’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Pecka) 81’
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE / INSTAGRAM: @PEAKACTION
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER