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Resolute Display Sees SAFC Break Toros’ Hex

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/26/17, 10:23PM EDT


Newcomers make difference as San Antonio claims South Texas Derby

Photo courtesy Rio Grande Valley FC

EDINBURG, Texas – San Antonio FC had never held a lead, let alone taken victory, against Rio Grande Valley FC as it entered H-E-B Park for the first game of its 2017 USL regular season.

Thanks to Billy Forbes’ 15th-minute goal, and a resolute defensive display against the Toros’ potent attack, both of those streaks came to an end on Sunday night as SAFC took a 1-0 victory in the South Texas Derby to get its season off to an ideal start.

“Every time San Antonio and RGV meet the games are very close and very tight, and tonight was no different,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell. “Hats off to RGV for playing a good game, but again, I’m very proud of the guys for their resilience and character which got us out on top today.”

The Toros’ success against SAFC was well-documented going in, with RGVFC’s 3-0 victory in the final game between the teams in the 2016 USL regular season eliminating SAFC from playoff contention. On Sunday night, San Antonio’s revamped lineup turned the tables, spoiling the first home regular-season game for the Toros at their outstanding new facility.

Photo courtesy Rio Grande Valley FC

A solid contingent of San Antonio’s fans had made the trip, and they exploded into celebration when Forbes scored his first goal for the club. Entering his second stint in the Alamo City, the Turks and Caicos international fired home the game-winner, and then helped lead the post-game celebration with the travelling support.

“It means a lot to have our fans here,” said Forbes. “After the game we went over to them and cheered for them. I think it’s great to see our fans come out and show support.”

While Forbes’ goal gave SAFC the lead, it was the team’s revamped back line that made sure it proved decisive. Three newcomers started in the back four with Christian Ibeagha, Cyprian Hedrick and Ben Newnam joining returnee Greg Cochrane, and while Hedrick had to be substituted in the 34th minute for Stephen McCarthy, the group recorded 36 clearances and blocked three shots on the way to victory.

“It’s very exciting seeing what this new squad is capable of,” said SAFC captain Michael Reed, one of five returning players in Sunday’s starting lineup. “It’s big to start the season off on the right foot, especially against RGV considering all the points we dropped against them last year. To get a win at their place in a new stadium, well we can only go up from here.”

San Antonio will now prepare for its home opener next Saturday night, which promises to bring a raucous crowd to Toyota Field for the visit of the LA Galaxy II. After breaking the Toros’ hex over them, Reed believes the side is ready to use the win as a platform to a strong start to the year.

“We’re excited to play in front of our fans, it’s a different atmosphere and it’s going to be exciting,” said Reed. “I think the guys will be excited for it and now we’ll take it one thing at a time, one training session at a time, and one game at a time.”

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