San Antonio FC (1-0-0, 3 points) kicked off their title defense by defeating Oakland Roots (0-0-1, 0 points) 3-1 on opening night 2023 at Toyota Field in front of a sell out crowd of 8,106 fans. On a night when San Antonio FC celebrated their 2022 Championship by raising a new banner, it was the new faces who stole the show. New arrivals Niko Hansen and Lamar Batista scored the Goals for SAFC. Batista scored a Brace and also added an Assist on his debut. Memo Diaz scored for Oakland in defeat.
SAFC defeated Oakland Roots last year in the Western Semifinals by a similar dominant score of 3-0. That result kick started a playoff run that culminated in SAFC winning their first ever League Championship last November. They defeated Louisville 3-1 on November 13th, 2022 to claim the USL Cup trophy.
The offseason brought the loss of San Antonio FC's top two goal scorers from 2022. One of the biggest offseason topics was who will replace all that goal scoring? Safe to say they didn't think it would be a Defender on a 25 day contract signed just two days before the opening match who would lead the way.
Manager Alen Marcina liked the overall look of his new Defender. “Obviously Lamar scores two beautiful goals but also, the pressing actions he was committed to. It’s a first for him to be man-to-man marking. He did a great job containing [Lindo] Mfeka – we knew we had to contain Mfeka and [Edgardo] Rito. Those are two difference makers for Oakland, and in this league, and obviously the two beautiful goals. You don’t often see that from centerbacks but we’ll take it.”
Marcina also replied "Of course." when asked about the possibility of Lamar's contract being extended this season.
SAFC returned 12 players from their Championship season including five key Defenders, two Strikers, and Keeper Jordan Farr. The latter dazzled in Goal on Saturday night making three spectatcular saves throughout the course of the match. But the newcomers stole the show.
Hansen got things started for SAFC in the 12' when Batista played Hansen down the left side of the pitch in stride and Hansen did the rest, turning in the box and beating Oakland Keeper Blanchette into the lower side of the goal for the early 1-0 lead.
Batista would double the lead and earn the match winner on a corner kick bicycle goal in first half added time. As if that wasn't eye opening enough, he would catch Blanchette off his line in the 73', hitting a spectacular Goal from midfield. It was an all around impressive debut for the player with Portland Timbers and OKC Energy ties.
Batista likes the vibe of his new Club. “I’ve never been a part of a group where everybody from your striker to you 10 to your eight, six, everyone fights there’s no excuse everyone does their job. I’m a worker myself I love to work I love to fight. I usually love to chirp. But everybody here was working their tails off. It’s great, I love this type of football.”
Next up for San Antonio FC is their first road trip. They'll travel to play Loudoun United on Sunday March 19th. SAFC's next home game will be on March 25th vs Colorado.
SAFC: 1-0, Niko Hansen (Assisted by Lamar Batista) 12’
SAFC: 2-0, Lamar Batista (Assisted by PC) 45+2’
OAK: 2-1, Memo Diaz (Assisted by Edgardo Rito) 59’
SAFC: 3-1 Lamar Batista 74’
IMAGES - SAN ANTONIO FC TWITTER
PHOTO - DARREN ABATE / @PEAKACTION ON INSTAGRAM