San Antonio FC (12-8-13, 44 points) kept their playoff hopes alive as they defeated Portland Timbers II (10-8-14, 38 points) by a score of 4-3 at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon on Friday night. SAFC was lead by Forward Ever Guzman who scored the first ever hat trick in San Antonio FC history. San Antonio largely dominated the match but they gave up two goals in the final five minutes to keep things in doubt right up until the final whistle.
San Antonio's post season hopes will come down to the final match of the regular season next weekend at Toyota Field when they host Colorado Switchbacks.
With five players injured and leading scorer Frank Lopez suspended from a Red Card last weekend, SAFC turned to Forward Ever Guzman to lead the attack, and the decision proved to be exactly what SAFC needed. It was his first start since July 3rd, and he made his presence felt almost immediately. He scored the opening goal of the game in the 7th minute and then he added a second goal just five minutes later. It was his 6th and 7th goals of the season and his first in over four months; since June 8th vs Reno. He would secure his historic hat trick with a goal in the second half; his 8th goal of the year.
“I’m very happy [to score the first hat trick],” said Guzman. “It comes down to hard work by everybody and I was lucky enough to finish the chances. This is the second hat trick I’ve ever scored and it’ll always be special to score one.”
After going down 2-0 in the opening 12 minutes, Portland would get themselves back into the match thanks to a Cristian Ojeda free kick deep in San Antonio's end in the 24'. Set pieces have been a real weak spot for San Antonio FC this season and they were victimized once again as Ojeda beat SAFC Keeper Matt Cardone who was left flat footed by the shot.
SAFC Midfielder Brian Gomez would restore San Antonio's two goal lead in the 40'. The goal was his 7th of the season and he has now scored in back to back games. The goal was assisted by Midfielder Walter Restrepo, who also assisted on Guzman's third goal in the second half. Restrepo now has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last three games.
Shortly after the Gomez tally, SAFC star Midfielder Cristian Parano had to be subbed off for injury. Parano adds to a lengthy injury list for San Antonio that already featured the aforementioned five inactive players before Friday's kickoff.
In the second half San Antonio was in no hurry to press the action but they still found another goal when Guzman tallied his historic hat trick to put away any real hopes of a Portland comeback. The goal extended SAFC's lead to 4-1 in the 67'. And they needed it.
Portland would pull back two more goals late. The first came in the 86' thanks to Giovanni Calixtro. That was followed up by a Ryan Sierakowski goal in added time to cut the lead to 4-3 in the dying minutes of the match. It never should have gotten that close, but San Antonio was able to see out the win are earn all three vital points.
“It’s always good to win on the road and this was our last away match of the season in a wonderful stadium,” SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell said. “It was good to see our players respond after last week and come out here and give a good, gutsy performance.”
Next up for San Antonio FC is their final regular season match of the season, back home at Toyota Field on Saturday October 19th with a post-season birth on the line.
SAFC: 1-0, Ever Guzman (Cristian Parano assist) 6’
SAFC: 2-0, Ever Guzman (Jack Barmby assist) 12’
T2: 2-1, Cristian Ojeda 25’
SAFC: 3-1, Brian Gomez (Walter Restrepo assist) 39’
SAFC: 4-1, Ever Guzman (Walter Restrepo assist) 67’
T2: 4-2, Giovanni Calixtro (Eryk Williamson assist) 86’
T2: 4-3, Ryan Sierakowski (Todd Wharton assist) 90’
T2: Yellow Card (Eryk Williamson) 23’
T2: Yellow Card (Max Ornstil) 73’
T2: Yellow Card (Todd Wharton) 77’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Moises Hernandez) 88'
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE / INSTAGRAM: @PEAKACTION
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER