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Preseason Roundup – San Antonio earns victory against Guatemala’s Antigua GFC

By Staff, 02/25/24, 10:00AM EST


Rising FC, Lights play to scoreless draw; Switchbacks, Legion FC take victories against MLS NEXT Pro opposition

San Antonio FC took victory on Saturday night in its preseason exhibition against Guatemalan club Antigua GFC at Toyota Field. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

SAN ANTONIO – Luke Haakenson and Mohamed Omar scored either side of halftime as San Antonio FC took 2-0 victory against Guatemalan side Antigua GFC at Toyota Field on Saturday night in its second preseason outing ahead of the 2024 USL Championship season.

San Antonio took the lead in the 10th minute when Haakenson chested down a pass from Jorge Hernandez and struck from distance to put SAFC ahead. The visitors were then reduced to 10 players six minutes in the second half before Omar capitalized off a set piece opportunity to double SAFC’s lead in the 57th minute.

Entering at halftime, goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh made a fingertip save in the final 10 minutes to preserve the team’s first shutout of the year.

PHOENIX RISING FC 0, LAS VEGAS LIGHTS FC 0: Phoenix and Las Vegas each had chances but settled for a scoreless draw at Phoenix Rising FC Stadium.

Making his return after recently being part of the Argentina U-23 squad that earned qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics, Rocco Ríos Novo was called into action to turn away a Lights chance five minutes before halftime. Ten minutes into the second half, Ríos Novo made another pair of key stops to keep the game scoreless.

“It was a tough game but a good preseason friendly,” said Rising FC Head Coach Danny Stone. “A competitive game, I thought we improved in the second half. I was pleased with the adaptations we made at halftime. Credit to Vegas, they played well in the first half. We got stronger as the game went forward. It’s another really good preseason test for us. It was exactly the kind of test we needed heading into the final weeks of preseason.”

TAMPA BAY ROWDIES 4, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA 0: 2022 USL Championship Player of the Year Leo Fernandes scored his first goal of preseason as the Tampa Bay Rowdies notched their third win of the preseason, defeating the University of South Florida at the club’s training facility.

Damian Rivera continued his fast start in Tampa Bay with his second tally in as many games, opening the scoring in the seventh minute as he found space at the top of the box to line up a right-footed strike into the back of the net. Tampa Bay kept the Bulls under pressure for most of the first half, resulting in second goal in the 31st minute. A long throw in from the right flank was knocked on Manuel Arteaga and then Cal Jennings before reaching Danny Crisostomo to double the lead.

The Rowdies made several changes at the hour mark, most notably bringing on Fernandes for his first action of preseason. With his first touch of the match, Fernandes connected on a cross from Rivera with a strike on the outside of his boot to direct the ball into the bottom left corner. It’s the first goal in a competitive match for Fernandes since rupturing his Achilles last year during the preseason.

“Watching the ball hit the back of the net felt great, I wont lie,” said Fernandes. “It was definitely a great moment. Hopefully I can keep doing it the next games. For me, honestly just to get out there, get some minutes, and get my confidence up again is huge. I’m loving the way we’re playing going forward, the fluidity. We can rotate with the wingbacks and the other strikers, so it’s been good to watch and finally get to play and do it myself.”

Just a few minutes after Fernandes’ strike, a Rowdies trialist put the match to bed with a tap in on the back post off a set piece.

PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC 2, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH 0: The Hounds picked up their second win of the preseason as Robbie Mertz and Pat Hogan each found the net against the Panthers at Highmark Stadium.

After a scoreless first half the Hounds took the lead six minutes after the break when Kazaiah Sterling broke in behind the left side of the defense. The forward waited as players arrived in the penalty area before picking out Mertz at the back post, who finished with a well-struck shot for his second goal of the preseason.

Mertz got things started on the Hounds’ second goal in the 65th minute, delivering a corner kick from the left side. Hogan made the near-post run and elevated to turn a glancing header past the goalkeeper, giving the center back his first of the preseason.

The Hounds had chances for a third goal, including another corner kick play from which Babacar Diene slammed the ball off the underside of the crossbar, but no goal was given, as the ball was ruled to have not completely crossed the goal line.

BIRMINGHAM LEGION FC 2, HUNTSVILLE CITY FC 1: Tyler Pasher and Buya Turay each converted from the penalty spot as Legion FC rallied from a halftime deficit to defeat Huntsville City FC at Wicks Family Field.

Huntsville took the lead from the spot in the 28th minute but Legion FC fought back after the break. Pasher leveled the score in the 62nd minute as he scored from the spot, and then 10 minutes later it was the turn of Turay to give the visitors victory.

COLORADO SPRINGS SWITCHBACKS FC 4, COLORADO RAPIDS II 1: Maalique Foster scored a pair of first-half goals to lead the Switchbacks to victory against the Rapids 2 of MLS NEXT Pro at Weidner Field.

The Jamaican forward struck inside the opening minute to put the Switchbacks on top off an assist by Juan Tejada, and the Panamanian doubled Colorado Springs’ lead 10 minutes before halftime with a finish from outside the penalty area. Foster added his second of the day four minutes later before the Rapids 2 pulled a goal back a minute before halftime.

Delentz Pierre made an important denial 10 minutes into the second to prevent Rapids 2 from further cutting into the Switchbacks’ lead. Two minutes later, Foster provided an assist to go with his first-half goals as Yosuke Hanya wrapped up the scoring for the hosts.

MONTEREY BAY F.C. 1, SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES II 1: Monterey Bay F.C. scored a late equalizer through Anthony Orendain to play to a draw with MLS NEXT Pro side San Jose Earthquakes II in a preseason contest at Cardinale Stadium.

Monterey Bay’s first real chance of the night came in the 12th minute of the match when Rafa Baca intercepted a pass from a Quakes II defender and fired it on frame, but his shot was saved by the goalkeeper. Midway through the first half the visitors got out on a counter of their own, but a kick-save from Antony Siaha as he was onrushing the attacker denied the opportunity. Siaha then thwarted another good look at goal for Quakes II in the 40th minute.

The Quakes II took advantage of a Monterey Bay turnover to take the lead in the 63rd minute as a low cross across the face of the net led to a tap-in for the visitors. Monterey Bay turned around a minute later with a shot of their own from Mobi Fehr, but it was blocked by a defender. In the 69th minute, a pass from Baca led Alex Dixon ahead for a one-on-one with the keeper above the 18-yard box, but the onrushing goalkeeper denied the chance once again.

Baca came close to notching an equalizer for the hosts with 12 minutes to go as his first-time shot was denied, but nine minutes later trialist Michael Gonzalez rocketed a shot off the crossbar and the rebound fell to fellow trialist Orendain to put home a finish.

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