Photo courtesy Charis Wilson / Seattle Sounders FC 2
TUKWILA, Wash. – San Antonio FC maintained its undefeated start to the season as it claimed a 3-2 victory against Seattle Sounders FC 2 on Tuesday night at Starfire Stadium. Seattle came out early on top, but San Antonio took the lead in the 13th minute when Rafa Castillo’s long shot was only parried by Tyler Miller, and Ben Newnam centered the rebound for A.J. Ajeakwa to tap home. Billy Forbes doubled San Antonio’s lead nine minutes later as he seized on a loose pass to finish low into the left corner. S2 almost pulled a goal back immediately as Castillo cleared Irvin Parra’s shot off the line from a corner, but San Antonio held its advantage to the halftime break. S2 got back into the game 10 minutes after the break, though, as Sam Rogers fired home his first professional goal on a second ball into the penalty area after a corner was half-cleared. Seattle had chances to level, but San Antonio restored its two-goal lead as Pecka set up Devin Vega for his first professional goal on a breakaway with 21 minutes to go. Six minutes later S2 hit back again as Zach Mathers converted from the penalty spot after Parra had been brought down in the area, but strong defensive effort and a late red card for Azrael Gonzalez – brought on for his professional debut at just 15 years old – after a strong challenge on Zach Herivaux saw the visitors hold out for victory.
13’ – SA – A.J. Ajeakwa (Ben Newnam)
24’ – SA – Billy Forbes
55’ – SEA – Sam Rogers (Brian Nana-Sinkam)
69’ – SA – Devin Vega (Pecka)
75’ – SEA – Zach Mathers (penalty kick)
Three Things That Matter:
1. San Antonio made its best effort to manage its squad in the middle game of its three-game trip to the Pacific Northwest, and would likely have taken a draw had it been offered prior to the game with as many front-line starters that saw limited action over the course of the game. Instead, San Antonio was able to take advantage of its opportunities to outstanding effect to hold on for a third consecutive victory and extend its lead at the top of the Western Conference.
2. Seattle made exactly the start it was looking for, controlling possession and creating chances, but the lack of a goal to assert its ascendancy came back to cost the side as San Antonio’s decisiveness in front of goal swung the game in the visitors’ favor by the time the game had hit the 25th minute. Sam Rogers’ sweetly struck volley finally brought the breakthrough for the hosts 10 minutes into the second half, but another decisive attacking move by San Antonio with just over 20 minutes to go saw Devin Vega notch his first professional goal, and leave S2 with an uphill battle it wasn’t able to meet.
3. Tuesday night’s game was one that saw a handful of significant firsts for a few of its participants. Not only were there first professional goals by Sam Rogers for S2 and SAFC’s Devin Vega – which ended up proving to be the game-winner – it also saw the introduction of U.S. Youth international Azrael Gonzalez as he became the second 15-year-old to make his professional debut in the USL. While not as young as former Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 standout Alphonso Davies on his debut, Gonzalez – who turns 16 next month – is the latest highly-touted Academy standout to see his first professional action in the USL, and could be one to watch as this season progresses.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Devin Vega, San Antonio FC – Vega’s first professional goal – a well-taken finish on a counter-attack – proved the game-winner as SAFC took its third consecutive victory.
Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – April 29, p.m. ET, Weidner Field
San Antonio FC at Portland Timbers 2 – April 28, 10:30 p.m. ET, Providence Park