Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio FC edged to a 1-0 victory against Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night at Toyota Field to extend its undefeated start to the season to eight games at the top of the Western Conference. Sacramento had the first big chance of the game in the 18th minute when Sammy Ochoa was denied breaking into the penalty area by Diego Restrepo, and Stephen McCarthy blocked the rebound as Wilson Kneeshaw tried to capitalize. Both teams had chances following that, with San Antonio’s best of the first half arriving in stoppage time when Rafa Castillo’s header flashed over the crossbar. Republic FC goalkeeper Evan Newton came up big seven minutes into the second half to deny Castillo one-on-one, but Castillo converted from the penalty spot in the 64th minute after A.J. Ajeakwa was ruled to have been brought down in the area. Ochoa had another chance with six minutes to go to level for Sacramento, but his low finish was turned wide by Restrepo, and San Antonio held on for its seventh win in eight outings this season.
64’ – SA – Rafael Castillo (penalty)
Three Things That Matter:
1. San Antonio had to work hard, but extended its undefeated streak to eight games to start the season as it did just enough to get past a strong Sacramento defensive effort. After the high-flying feats that had seen the side score 13 goals in its past four games, Republic FC’s defense – led by right back Emrah Klimenta – did an excellent job holding Billy Forbes in check over the course of the night, but when San Antonio was awarded a penalty kick midway through the second half, Rafa Castillo wasn’t going to make a mistake, and it proved the difference.
2. When things aren’t quite going your way in front of goal, it seems like the break you need just won’t arrive to get things back on track. That was certainly the case for Sacramento in the 18th minute when Sammy Ochoa broke in on goal in the left channel. Ochoa’s low finish was well saved by San Antonio, but the rebound came to Wilson Kneeshaw, who controlled well with a good spin move to take the ball toward goal. Unfortunately for the English forward, Stephen McCarthy was in the perfect spot to break up the play, extending Sacramento’s scoreless streak further.
3. It is still early, but San Antonio FC’s undefeated start to the season is already starting to put it in rare air in USL history. At 7-0-1, SAFC’s start this year is comparable to that of Orlando City SC in both 2012 and 2014, the Richmond Kickers in 2013 and the Rochester Rhinos in 2015. Three of those, the Kickers, Orlando in 2014 and the Rhinos, went deep into the regular season before suffering a first loss, and while the USL has continued to grow deeper in terms of talent each year, if San Antonio can get to double-digits in two weeks when it hosts Phoenix Rising FC, the questions about how far this run could go should increase.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Diego Restrepo, San Antonio FC – Restrepo made a vital save to keep the game scoreless in the first half, and another good one late to preserve the lead, as he finished with a four-save shutout.
San Antonio FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2 – May 13, 8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Field
Sacramento Republic FC at Real Monarchs SLC – May 13, 9:30 p.m. ET, Rio Tinto Stadium