San Antonio FC won their first ever League Championship on Sunday night defeating Louisville City FC by a score of 3-1 in front of 8,534 frenzied fans at a sold out Toyota Field. The win culminated a record setting season for the self proclaimed "mentality monsters" who dominated the USL's Western Conference all season long. They finished their season by doing the same thing to the top team from USL East. San Antonio FC Forward Santiago Patiño scored a brace in the victory. Patiño was named the MVP of USL Cup. SAFC Forward Samuel Adeniran also scored for SAFC in the win while Brian Ownby scored for Louisville in defeat.
It was the 4th USL Cup appearance for Louisville City FC but their first ever on the road. Louisville won back to back Cup Championships in 2017 and 2018. For San Antonio FC it was their first Cup appearance in their seven-year history and one that will not soon be forgotten as the team was crowned 2022 USL Champions.
For Manager Alen Marcina, it was his second San Antonio Championship. He previously guided NASL's San Antonio Scorpions to a Championship in 2014, almost eight years to the day. That match was also won at Toyota Field.
Said Marcina, “It’s going to be a special memory I’ll never forget. To be able to celebrate a championship in front of the best fans in the league, our fans here in San Antonio in our beautiful city, I’m just incredibly proud. Proud of everyone. From the game, we wanted to go against the best and Louisville is the best. They’ve proven it year after year. And to be fair, from start to finish, we were superior. Hats off to the Mentality Monsters. So proud of them. Louisville, heads held high, because they were fantastic all year. But I’m going to enjoy this moment.”
Things got off to an ominous start for San Antonio FC. In the second minute Patiño earned a Penalty Kick when he was fouled in the top corner of the Louisville box by their Keeper Faundez. SAFC Defender Mitchell Taintor took the PK but missed it wide of the net and an early golden chance for San Antonio FC drifted away without any harm. In the 16' Samuel Adeniran rattled the Louisville post with a blistering shot from distance but again the score remained 0-0.
In first half added time Taintor would get redemption. SAFC Midfielder Abu sent in a corner kick that Taintor headed into Louisville Defender Charpie. With his hand raised above his head, the ball smacked the hand and was whistled for the second SAFC Penalty of the Half. This time San Antonio sent Patiño to the spot and he delivered, sending San Antonio FC into the break with a 1-0 lead.
In the 64' Adeniran would double SAFC's lead when he got on the end of a Taintor Assist to head the ball into the top of Louiville's net for the match winning Goal.
Abu would mark Patiño with a pass that he finished in stride in the 70' to put SAFC into a commanding 3-0 lead. The Goal sent Toyota Field into wild jubilation, pounding the San Antonio night with loud screams that would not relent until long after the final whistle.
Louisville would add a Goal in the 78' but it was far too little and far too late to stop the party in San Antonio. Said Patiño, who scored five post season Goals in 2022, “Amazing for the city, amazing for this club and amazing for what’s coming. It’s amazing being home. We had a big advantage. We learned some last year, the advantage of playing at home. We fought for that Playoff spot at home, and it was a big change here.”
Defender Mitchell Taintor added, “This has been 20 years in the making with when I started playing soccer. It’s pretty emotional. I love this city, I love this team, I love the guys. I’m just really grateful. I’m really grateful for my fiancé, too, because last year when I got sent down, she encouraged me to go. I left her at home. And this year she not only encouraged me to come to San Antonio, but she’s chasing the dream with me living here. This is all for her and my family. It’s just an amazing night. The game didn’t start how I wanted it to with the worst penalty kick I’ve ever taken in my entire life, but that’s part of being a Mentality Monster. It's getting back up when you’re down. I caused the penalty kick and then had the assists, so life is good. I’m just so happy for everyone here. It’s just been an amazing night. I’m on top of the world.
Said Samuel Adeniran who scored his second poat season Goal on this night, “We knew we were the best team from the regular season until now. The be able to actually get the USL cup, it’s amazing. Obviously, the league doesn’t work the same way it does in Europe to where you just finish the league and you’re champions. From the first day we knew that we were going to be champions, so it really didn’t bother us that much.”
Defender Connor Maloney put a nice bow on the season, “It’s such a special moment. These guys have fought all year, and we deserve it. We came out tonight and played our style, played our way and imposed our game on them. From minute one to minute 90, and you saw it out there. 3-1 against a very good Louisville side. This team is about heart, soul, grit and resilience. I can name every adjective in the book. This team, I am so proud of. Alan got us prepared all year, and he’s been amazing, this organization has been amazing, this city has been amazing and the fans have been amazing. Thank you to everyone who has come out and supported us. We can’t thank you enough.”
Next up for San Antonio FC will be the offseason. Just how much of this Championship core can SAFC hang onto and what new pieces will be added in the off-season? Stay tuned to the San Antonio FC team page right here at Ticket760.com all offseason long for the latest player news and team developments. The 2023 USL Championship season will begin in March.
Full match highlights of San Antonio FC vs Louisville City FC in the USL Cup Final are below.
IMAGES - SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER
PHOTO - DARREN ABATE / INSTGRAM: @PEAKACTION