San Antonio FC (9-3-1, 30 points) are heading back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. They clinched Group D with a 3-2 victory over Austin Bold FC (3-6-3, 15 points) on Wednesday night at Toyota Field. Luis Solignac, Cristian Parano, and Jose Gallegos scored for SAFC in the victory. Parano and Gallegos also recorded an Assist.
San Antonio FC are now unbeaten in four straight matches against Austin Bold.
San Antonio FC was determined to bounce back from their first defeat of the season last week and it took them all of one minute as Luis Solignac got SAFC off to yet another fast start. It was his team leading 8th goal of the season and it was the second straight home match that he scored in the opening minute. That's one remarkable statistic. Here's another one. Solignac has now scored in 6 straight matches, a team record.
SAFC Manager Alen Marcina was beaming after the win. “I am incredibly proud of the guys. We were confident we would get a response from these players. These are players made of grit. We had a tough loss against El Paso with a penalty conceded and an own goal. The guys battled tonight against a good team competing for a place in the playoffs. You knew they were going to bring it today, and our guys got the result, so I am incredibly proud of them.”
Things got a bit testy later in the opening half as Fabien Garcia of the Bold was Yellow Carded for a poor tackle on Luis Solignac. That was followed up by a sideline dust up where it appeared that an Austin player tackled SAFC Midfielder Jose Gallegos to the ground while out of bounds after battling for possession. Somehow the only card that was issued out of that melee went to the SAFC bench for excessive arguing.
SAFC took a 1-0 lead to the halftime break.
In the second half it became a back and forth battle. After Roberto Avila equalized for Austin, Cristian Parano hit a sensational goal from outside the box, beating Diego Restrepo in the top left corner of the net for a 2-1 SAFC lead at the 56 minute mark. It was the first goal for Parano since August 8th and his 4th of the season, good for second place on the team.
Parano was thankful after the match. "The main thing is, I'd like to thank God that we were able to get the win. I think our team is really strong and united. We get stronger and our chemistry gets better with each match, and I'm happy for that because we're improving every day. We understand that we can enjoy these moments, which is important but overall, we're just happy to get the win."
Sean McFarlane leveled things for a second time for Austin five minutes later to even the game at 2-2.
That set up Gallegos for his sensational match winner in the 72nd minute. It was the second match in a row vs Austin where Gallegos spoiled the points for the Bold with a late goal.
SAFC Academy product, Defender Josh Ramsey, was in the eighteen for the third time this season. While he did not enter the match, he seems to be on track to become the third Academy player this season to make a debut appearance for the SAFC senior team (Bernal, Torres).
San Antonio still has three regular season matches to play, but now they know they'll be hosting a playoff game at Toyota Field sometime the weekend of October 8th - 11th.
Next up for San Antonio FC is their final home game of the regular season when they host OKC Energy on Saturday night. Kickoff is at 8pm.
SAFC: 1-0, Luis Solignac (Cristian Parano assist) 1’
ABFC: 1-1, Alberto Avila (Sean McFarlane assist) 50’
SAFC: 2-1, Cristian Parano (Jose Gallegos) 56’
ABFC: 2-2, Sean McFarlane (Xavi Baez assist) 62’
SAFC: 3-2, Jose Gallegos (Ignacio Bailone assist) 72’
ABFC: Yellow Card (Fabien Garcia) 37’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Nick Evans) 40’
ABFC: Yellow Card (Marcelo Serrano) 45’
SAFC: Yellow Card (Luis Solignac) 61’
ABFC: Yellow Card (Billy Forbes) 68’
ABFC: Yellow Card (Sonny Guadarrama) 76’
Attendance: 835 (socially distanced)
IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER
PHOTOS: DARREN ABATE, INSTAGRAM: @PEAKACTION