In their 6th season of play in the USL Championship San Antonio FC (16-10-9) went further than any SAFC team had gone before, and it took 120 minutes and Penalty Kicks to eliminate them. But SAFC came up one game short of their ultimate goal as they lost to Orange County SC (18-7-10) by a score of 1-1 (5-3) in the Western Conference Final. It was the first road playoff game in SAFC history and their first playoff game to reach penalty kicks since 2017. They are now 0-2 all time in post-season Penalty Kick shootouts. Forward Justin Dhillion's miss in Round 4 of the shootout opened the door for OC-SC to clinch the victory. Marcus Epps scored for SAFC in regulation to send the game into the Extra Time.
Orange County SC will play the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium in Florida on Sunday night November 28th in the USL Cup. The match will determine the winner of the 2021 USL Championship season. The Rowdies were by far the best team in USL Championship in the regular season winning 23 games and amassing 71 points.
It was the first meeting between SAFC and OC-SC since July 2019 and it won't be one to remember for a team that had a lot of success on the road overall in 2021 but couldn't put it together on this night and on this stage. Although they certainly gave it a valiant two hour fight right up until the very last kick.
OC-SC spent most of the opening half on the front foot.racking up 58% of the possession, earning 5 shots and 3 corners. But it was a throw-in that got the best of SAFC. In the 39th minute an OC-SC throw into the SAFC box skirted past several SAFC Defenders and landed at the feet of Forward Ronaldo Damus who hammered home his volley past SAFC Keeper Jordan Farr for the 1-0 lead.
In the second half, SAFC finally got on track as they became the aggressors. One minute after a tremendous chance that included shots by both Nathan and PC that ended with no damage done, SAFC Midfielder Marcus Epps got on the end of a Connor Maloney cross. His powerful header into the bottom left corner of Rakovsky's net tied the game in the 67' at 1-1. It was the 7th goal of the season for Epps and his first in the 2021 Playoffs. It was also the first goal conceeded by Orange County in the entire 2021 Playoffs.
In Extra Time, SAFC Keeper Jordan Farr was the star of the first frame making multiple saves in a row at the death of the first half of the extended frame to keep the match tied. It was a huge moment for the Keeper on Emergency Loan who was only playing his third game with the team. His saves helped SAFC reach Penalty Kicks but unfortunately he couldn't make any stops in the Shootout.
Next up for San Antonio FC is the start of an offseason that will be the shortest in their team history. By virtue of playing in such a deep playoff run, they have shortened their offseason by an entire month. Many offseason questions will need to be answered such as will Goal Keeper Matt Cardone be back for a 7th season? Will Midfielder Jose Gallegos finally move on to bigger opportunities? Could Loanees like Kortne Ford or Jordan Farr find a permanent home in SA?
All of that and more will be addressed in the coming weeks and months by the SSE organization.
Stay tuned to Ticket 760 and to the San Antonio FC team page on this site for all your SAFC offseason news as the team begins to build their roster for the 2022 season.