SAN ANTONIO – In two prior meetings at Toyota Field this season, San Antonio FC had been unable to find a way to take victory against South Texas Derby rival Rio Grande Valley FC.
On Saturday night, a pair of goals by Santiago Patino made the difference as the hosts earned a 3-1 victory against the Toros before a crowd of 7,966 fans to advance in the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2021 USL Championship Playoffs, presented by TwinSpires.
San Antonio will now await the winner of the game between Orange County SC and Oakland Roots SC in next weekend’s Western Conference Final, with San Antonio set to host should Oakland advance or visit Orange County.
Facing their rival for the first time in the postseason, San Antonio broke out of the gates quickly as Jose Gallegos attempted the first shot for the hosts within the opening 30 seconds before Patino sent a looping header over the crossbar off a corner kick by Mohammed Abu in the fourth minute. SAFC captain PC then provided the first real test of Toros goalkeeper Colin Miller in the fifth minute with a powerful shot from the top-left edge of the penalty area as the early pressure continued.
The strong start eventually paid off for the hosts in the 24th minute when Jose Gallegos received possession near the top of the penalty area and drifted to the left side of the box before shooting back across goal. Miller was able to get a hand to the effort, but wasn’t able to control the rebound, allowing Patino to tap home from close range as he quickly took advantage.
San Antonio carried its lead to the break as the Toros recorded only a pair of shots in the first half, and 10 minutes into the second half Patino struck again to double the advantage. Off a throw-in from the right, Connor Maloney delivered a cross that wasn’t well judged by the Toros defense, allowing the Brazilian to control and shoot home with his second touch from 10 yards out just inside the penalty spot. Things then appeared to be in complete control for the hosts six minutes later when Nathan Fogaca added a third as he received a pass from Gallegos, skipped past a defender at the top of the penalty area as he cut inside into his right foot and shot low into the right corner of the net.
The Toros had struggled to find attacking success for the opening hour, but in the 67th minute they were handed a lifeline when Alexis Cerritos was brought down in the left side of the penalty area by a San Antonio defender, resulting in a penalty kick. Elvis Amoh stepped up to the top and delivered a perfect shot to the top-left corner than left SAFC goalkeeper Jordan Farr frozen to get the visitors on the board.
The goal appeared to give RGVFC a boost, but even with a greater level of energy the Toros had difficulties in breaking down the San Antonio back line consistently. Cerritos had a late chance with a curling effort from the top-left edge of the penalty area saved by Farr, but San Antonio closed out the game comfortably to advance to its first Western Conference Final in club history.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Santiago Patino, San Antonio FC – Patino recorded goals either side of halftime and finished the night with four shots and one key pass while winning 4 of 7 duels and 2 of 2 aerial duels as he led the attacking line for the hosts.
SA – Santiago Patino 24’
SA – Santiago Patino (Connor Maloney) 55’
SA – Nathan Fogaca (Jose Gallegos) 61’
RGV – Elvis Amoh (Penalty Kick) 69’