EDINBURG, Texas – Ahead of Wednesday night’s South Texas Derby, new San Antonio FC addition Lance Laing was emphatic in his desire to make a major impact in the club’s bid for a second consecutive trip to the USL Cup Playoffs.
After recording his first goal and assist in SAFC’s colors in a 3-1 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC at H-E-B Park, which snapped the club’s four-game losing streak, Laing’s potential impact on the side in the final quarter of the regular season was evident.
“It was necessary,” said Laing of the win. “We weren’t happy with the position we were in and we like to control our own destiny, and getting a win today helps us do that.”
Proceedings didn’t begin as SAFC had hoped as the Toros struck in just the third minute when Jesus Enriquez put home a fine finish after a sharp passing move found him in space near the top of the penalty area, allowing the chance to cut into the penalty area and finish low into the right corner. San Antonio had to withstand other chances as the hosts looked to add to their lead, but a positive spell of pressure late in the first half led to a strong second-half turnaround.
As quickly as the Toros had found the net in the first half, San Antonio almost matched them in the second as Laing’s sharp cutback between found Conor Presley in the center of the penalty area for a first-time finish to the bottom-left corner for his first professional goal.
“It’s a great feeling, but more importantly I’m happy that it helped the team get the first one to be able to come back and get the win,” said the 20-year-old.
Laing then produced the moment of the night in the 62nd minute as a passing move on the left side that began with Ever Guzman and went through Omar Gordon and Mikey Lopez to find the Jamaican international on the right side of the penalty area. With space to work, Laing opened onto his left foot and curled a delightful, chipped finish over Toros goalkeeper Nico Corti and just under the crossbar, showing exactly why SAFC had acquired him on loan from FC Cincinnati earlier this month.
San Antonio FC's Lance Laing is congratulated by his teammates after scoring his first goal for the club, which was the winner in a 3-1 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC. | Photo courtesy Christian Inoferio / Rio Grande Valley FC
Guzman added a tremendous finish of his own to wrap up victory for the visitors with nine minutes to go with a perfectly-taken first-time lob of Corti after a ball over the top of the Toros’ defense by Sonny Guadarrama. Claiming just the club’s third road victory of the season, SAFC remained in touch with the top eight on a night when fellow postseason contenders the Swope Park Rangers took victory against Tulsa Roughnecks FC and Saint Louis FC ended all square against Seattle Sounders FC 2.
“Earning points on the road takes a full team effort,” said SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell. “We went a goal down early and the response from the team was very good. We came out in the second half and showed determination and desire to get back into the game, and we’re extremely proud of their application tonight.”
With another challenging road contest coming next against Western Conference-leader Real Monarchs SLC at Zions Bank Stadium on Monday night, Laing and his new teammates know there’s still a lot of work to be done.
But following Wednesday’s victory the Jamaican believes there’s the chance for more where that came from.
“I’m still trying to get used to the way this team plays and get settled into the team,” said Laing. “Tonight was great because I got a goal and an assist, but more importantly it was a great team performance in the second half and that helped us get the result.”