SAN ANTONIO – A clash between two sides expected to be strong Western Conference contenders ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw between hosts San Antonio FC and Phoenix Rising FC at a sold-out Toyota Field. Here are three takeaways:
1. BRINGING THE FIREPOWER: Conventionally, both San Antonio FC and Phoenix Rising FC have been sides that pride themselves on taking care of business at the defensive end. On Saturday night, while there certainly was room for growth on back lines both featuring new faces, the bigger factor in the final score was the amount of attacking weapons both sides can throw at an opponent. The teams combined for 31 shots, while SAFC’s Lance Laing alone recorded five key passes including an assist that allowed Ever Guzman to open the scoring in the ninth minute. There was plenty of quality, too, with Billy Forbes’ thunderbolt of a shot late in the first half probably the pick of the bunch. Defense may win championships, but these two attacks are going to give opponents plenty to deal with all season.
2. RISING NEVER SAY DIE: One of the biggest qualities Phoenix Rising FC has shown over the past two seasons has been its refusal to go quietly while there’s hope of a result. That trait showed itself again in San Antonio as it rallied back on three separate occasions to come away with a valuable road point. Going behind with 10 minutes to go on an own goal by Adam Jahn could have sunk the side, but Head Coach Rick Schantz reached into his deck and pulled out a trump card in Jason Johnson, who rewarded his coach with a fine stoppage-time header for the final goal of the night. There will be games this season Phoenix may not pull out of the fire as they did on Saturday, but it will be a surprise if it’s for lack of effort on their part.
3. REMEMBER ME? It’s a fact of life that for some players, the chance to go up against a side they played for previously is one to relish. That seemed the case at Toyota Field as both Billy Forbes and Jason Johnson struck against their former clubs. Returning to San Antonio’s colors after spending last season in Phoenix, Forbes was a menace down the right side and produced a spectacular finish that brought the sellout crowd of 8,058 fans to their feet as they welcomed back their returning hero. Johnson’s finish soon after coming on as a substitute to level the game to subdue San Antonio’s fans also felt like a sweet moment for the Jamaican. Both players will find the net again, likely regularly, this season, but there was likely something special about their first goals of 2019 for each.