San Antonio FC won the Western Conference Championship game and advanced to their first ever USL Cup Final by defeating Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 2-0 at a sold out Toyota Field on Sunday night. Connor Maloney scored his first ever League Goal in the 23' and Santiago Patiño put the match away deep into second half added time to put an exclamation on the historic night for San Antonio FC.
San Antonio FC will host the USL Cup Final on Sunday night at Toyota Field. It will be the first Championship match played in the stadium since the NASL's San Antonio Scorpions defeated the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-1 in the NASL Cup Final on November 15th, 2014. San Antonio fans stormed the field after that victory.
It was the third time SAFC defeated Colorado this year. They won 1-0 in Colorado back in June and most recently, handed them another 1-0 defeat at Toyota Field in September. Neither was bigger than the match on Sunday night.
Said Manager Alen Marcina, “Incredibly proud, first championship for the club, regular season champions and Western Conference champions. Also, what makes this incredibly special is that we got to celebrate in front of the best fans in the league; our fans. And there’s a sense of pride and joy that to me is more special than the cup we earned tonight, it’s the opportunity to experience it with our fans in our city, so I’m over the moon at the moment. Super thankful and proud.”
Added SAFC Keeper Jordan Farr, “In this environment, it’s impossible not to be switched on. The fans push us to another level, and we’re playing the best soccer of the year right now. And I think that’s a credit to all the coaches and how we prepare for games. And so, the guys top to bottom couldn’t be happier.”
In the 23rd minute SAFC Forward Santiago Patiño found Defender Connor Maloney in the Colorado box. Maloney pulled a quick turn and fired into the lower left corner of Colorado Keeper Jeff Caldwell's net for the early 1-0 lead. That scoreline would stand all the way until second half added time. SAFC Midfielder Cristian Parano pounced on a loose ball in the San Antonio midfield and turned on his speed, catching Colorado behind the ball as they were pressing for a late equalizer. Parano had one Defender to beat and passed to a wide open Santiago Patiño who finished off the two-on-one break, and the match, with a shot right through Caldwell's legs to extend the lead to an insurmountable 2-0.
The Switchbacks players crumpled to their knees in defeat and exhaustion. Toyota Field literally shook in a frenzy of loud cheers and exuberance. San Antonio FC celebrated their Western Conference Championship.
But they know there is still one more match to play and one more trophy to be won.
Said Maloney, “We can’t get complacent. Yeah, we won a Western Conference final, but this is now the big final we strived for all year, even in pre-season. So, big players show up in big moments, and you all will see that on Sunday night, and will see who comes out on top. But Louisville is a great opponent and Alen will have them scouted inside and out, and we will prepare on Tuesday.”
Next up for San Antonio FC is the USL Cup Final. The winner will be crowned 2022 USL Champions. The match will be Sunday night at Toyota Field and the game will air on ESPN 2. The match will kick off at 7:30pm.
Full highlights of San Antonio FC vs Colorado Springs are below.
IMAGES - SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER
PHOTO - DARREN ABATE / INSTAGRAM : @PEAKACTION