San Antonio FC (12-9-13, 45 points) had everything to play for and everything lining up in their favor on Saturday night. Playing at home where they are one of the toughest teams to beat? Check. Playing the worst team in USL Championship West? Check. Building a 2-0 lead in a "win and in" game? Check. Colorado going down a man, furthering the San Antonio advantage? Check. In the end, none of it would be enough as two second half goals from Colorado spoiled SAFC's party, ending the game in a crushing 2-2 draw for the silver and black. And with it, ending their season as well.
San Antonio still had a chance to earn a playoff birth even after the improbable draw but neither of the two results they needed went in their favor. And just like that, San Antonio FC's season came to an abrupt end on Saturday night as they missed out on the post season by one single point. No playoffs for the third time in four seasons. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (7-6-21, 27 points) finished the season in last place but were no doubt happy to put up a strong fight and play spoilers in front of 8,406 fans at Toyota Field.
Manager Darren Powell, who's future has to be in doubt after another close-but-no-playoffs finish, was frustrated after the match. “We had chances to put the game away and we didn’t, and credit to Colorado because they came in and fought and created opportunities, and we didn’t take full advantage of playing against 10 men. For us it’s hard to take and everyone is disappointed.”
Things started favorably for SAFC when Colorado's Abdul Rwatubyaye was Red Carded in the 28'. That lead to a San Antonio penalty kick which SAFC Captain and Midfielder, Pecka, took with a purpose and delivered the home side a 1-0 lead. Early in the second half San Antonio would get another penalty. Midfielder Jack Barmby doubled SAFC's lead to 2-0 in the 48' on his penalty take. Things looked great for San Antonio at that point, but they were about to have the bottom fall out on them.
In an ominous callback to the August 17th match at home against Texas rivals RGV, SAFC blew a 2-0 second half lead to a 10-man RGV. That game featured an Eby Ackon own-goal. And in a cruel twist of fate, Ackon would have yet another own-goal in the same situation on this night, in the 68' to cut the SAFC lead to one.
Then in the 82', as if to come full circle on SAFC's 2019 season, a set piece goal for Colorado. Set piece goals have victimized SAFC numerous times this season, and they would do so one final time like a dagger into the hearts of the whole city. Tucker Bone would get his head on a service by Ismaila Jome into the San Antonio box and he muscled it past SAFC Keeper Matt Cardone for the tying goal. SAFC could not find the winner they needed in the final 10 minutes and the rest is now history.
Jack Barmby put the blame right on themselves. “If we’re brutally honest, we didn’t put away chances when we could have and we couldn’t finish the game off. We conceded two goals against 10 men, we’ve seen it before against RGV, and we only have ourselves to blame.”
And Defender Kai Greene would have the final say on the season. “It’s unfortunate because it was in our hands. We had it laid out for us on a platter and we couldn’t get it done. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, but all I can say is thank you to the fans. It’s tough.”
And just like that, the season is over for San Antonio FC. When a team finishes just one point shy of their goal, there are countless moments in the season that the team could point to as the difference. SAFC will have all winter to ponder those moments and wonder about what could have been.
The questions about how the 2020 team and coaching staff will look come next Spring will no doubt start to be answered very soon. But on this night, it was another disappointing ending in a season that had one too many of them.
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE / INSTAGRAM: @PEAKACTION
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER
SAFC: 1-0, Pecka (penalty) 30’
SAFC: 2-0, Jack Barmby (penalty) 48’
COS: 2-1, Own Goal (Eby Ackon) 68’
COS: 2-2, Tucker Bone (Ismaila Jome assist) 82’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Moises Hernandez) 8’
COS: Red Card (Abdul Rwatubyaye) 28’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Walter Restrepo) 39’
COS: Yellow Card (Matthew Hundley) 45’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Brian Gomez) 45’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Eby Ackon) 63’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Pecka) 72’
COS: Yellow Card (Abraham Rodriguez) 85’
SAFC: Red Card (Walter Restrepo) 90’