MATCH RECAP: San Antonio FC Opens Playoffs With 2-0 Victory Over San Diego


San Antonio FC (15-10-8) defeated San Diego Loyal 2-0 (14-6-13) on Friday night in a Western Conference Quaterfinal Playoff Matchup at Toyota Field. It was the first ever meeting between the two Clubs and SAFC responded with their best playoff performance in team history. It was the first playoff win for SAFC since 2017. Nathan scored the match winner in the 14' and that was followed up by Santiago Patiño scoring nine minutes later to double SAFC's lead. The two goals were more than enough to defeat the Loyal who are Managed by US Men's Legend Landon Donovan. San Antonio FC hasn't allowed a goal in three consecutive games.

SAFC had to play without their starting Goal Keeper and longest tenured SAFC player, Matt Cardone. After not missing a game all season long Cardone was injured in the season finale and has been ruled out indefintely. SAFC made an Emergency Loan request this past week and were able to add Jordan Farr from Indy Eleven. Farr started 21 games this season in Indy recording 72 saves and 5 clean sheets. Indy Eleven did not qualify for the 2021 Playoffs. Farr had several key moments including a huge one-on-one block in the first half to preserve SAFC's clean sheet. It was a strong performance for a player who hasn't even been with the team a full week.

San Antonio FC will play the winner of the Phoenix Rising / RGV-FC match which takes place on Saturday night. San Antonio would host another playoff match if RGV can pull off the upset of the Defending Western Conference Champions, otherwise SAFC will be traveling to face Phoenix for the first time since 2019. RGV-FC are a much more familiar team to SAFC as they have played their divison rivals 20 times since 2016. In four meetings this year, each team won one game and they tied twice.

Said SAFC Manager Alen Marcina after the match, "They fought for the 90-plus minutes; their pressing actions were fantastic. As a collective it was a defensive masterclass. From front to back we were extremely organized and extremely smart. We scored a couple of nice goals. San Diego is a very good team coached by Landon [Donovan] and Nate [Miller]. We knew it would be a tough challenge, but we earned and deserved the win.”

The opening goal came on a set piece after a foul on SAFC just outside the San Diego box. San Antonio Midfielder Mohammed Abu delivered a strike on his free kick that Nathan powered into the back of the net with his head for the 1-0 lead. It was Nathan's team leading 14th goal of the season through all competitions. It was the first Assist of the year for Abu who joined the team in late July.

Patiño would follow that up with a header of his own after a San Diego clearance attempt that went towards the Loyal goal mouth. Patiño pounced on the ball and got just enough of it to get into the net and double SAFC's lead. It was Patiño's first goal since May and his 6th of the season after spending a couple months out of the lineup with an injury.

Despite owning 70% of possession San Diego were never a major threat to come back in the match. They only out-shot SAFC by 4 attempts, 15-11 and managed just one official shot on target in the entire match. They did hold a 9-3 advantage in Corner Kicks but didn't do a ton with their chances. One of their botched short-corner attempts even ended up going out of bounds to San Antonio.

All in all it was the most complete playoff performance in San Antonio FC history. SAFC moves their record to 2-2 all-time in USL Championship Playoff games.

Next up for San Antonio FC, they will wait to see who they are playing, when and where in the Western Conference Semifinals next weekend. It will either be against RGV-FC at home or against Phoenix Rising on the road. San Antonio FC has never played a road Playoff game in Club history.

SAFC will be looking to advance to the Western Conference Championship game for the first time in Club history.

IMAGES: SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER

PHOTO: DARREN ABATE / INSTAGRAM: @PEAKACTION


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