Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
SANDY, Utah – On a night when Real Monarchs SLC became the first team to claim a place in the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs, San Antonio FC rallied for a stunning 2-1 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday to hand the Monarchs their first home loss for the season. San Antonio almost took the lead in the 10th minute as a header by Michael Reed was cleared off the line by the Monarchs’ Nick Besler. A pair of good defensive clearances from low crosses also kept SAFC off the board, while Real’s Sebastian Saucedo went close in the 27th minute as his shot from the left side of the penalty area found the side-netting as he looked for the near post. Saucedo also forced a good save from San Antonio goalkeeper Diego Restrepo off a free kick three minutes later, while Reed fired over from 10 yards in the 42nd minute as SAFC almost took the lead just before the break. Ten minutes into the second half the Monarchs took the lead as Saucedo clipped a pass past his marker on the left, cut into the penalty area and found the far corner with a low finish. SAFC almost replied quickly, but Max Lachowecki made a good sliding challenge to keep Kris Tyrpak from a finish, while Cesar Elizondo tried an audacious chip a few minutes later that was claimed by a retreating Connor Sparrow. The Monarchs goalkeeper came up big again moments later to deny a volleyed finish by Elizondo, and Omar Gordon headed the rebound wide. San Antonio continued to press, and Elizondo hit the right post with a low shot from 25 yards. The Monarchs’ Chandler Hoffman almost added a second with 14 minutes to go, only to be denied by a good challenge from SAFC’s Stephen McCarthy, but then San Antonio turned the game in their favor late as an own goal from a set piece by Taylor Peay tied the game with two minutes to go. In stoppage time SAFC grabbed all three points, with McCarthy’s header from Reed’s delivery putting the race for the USL Regular Season Championship back onto the front burner.
55’ – SLC – Sebastian Saucedo (Charlie Adams)
88’ – SA – Taylor Peay (own goal)
90+’ – SA – Stephen McCarthy (Michael Reed)
Three Things That Matter:
1. San Antonio FC became the first USL team to earn victory against Real Monarchs SLC at Rio Tinto Stadium thanks to a remarkable late pair of set-piece goals that set up a fascinating final stretch in the USL Western Conference. San Antonio had been unlucky not to get an equalizer prior to the late drama, with Cesar Elizondo both forcing a big save from Monarchs goalkeeper Connor Sparrow, and then hitting the right post, but a pair of well-delivered set pieces saw the visitors turn things around and pull within seven points of the Monarchs with a game in hand.
2. U.S. U20 international Sebastian Saucedo wasn’t a constant presence in Saturday’s game, but whenever he got on the ball there was a sense of anticipation that something special could happen. The winger produced danger in the first half, but his outstanding piece of control that led to the opening goal of the night was the perfect example of what Saucedo can be capable of. Leaving his marker behind with a great touch, Saucedo then threaded the needle with his finish to the far post to beat San Antonio goalkeeper Diego Restrepo and a back-tracking defense.
3. The Monarchs clinched a place in the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs thanks to OKC Energy FC’s defeat against the Swope Park Rangers on Saturday night, but will now face a challenge for the USL Regular Season Championship should San Antonio be able to claim victory in its game in hand on the Western Conference leader. The game will also offer a big chance for Head Coach Mark Briggs to work with his team, who had been in prime position to take victory. The memories of this contest will be a major storyline should these teams meet again when the postseason arrives.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Michael Reed, San Antonio FC – Reed was a positive influence throughout the contest, and provided the set piece delivery that led to the winner for Stephen McCarthy in stoppage time.
Real Monarchs SLC at Portland Timbers 2 – September 9, 10 p.m. ET, Providence Park
San Antonio FC at LA Galaxy II – September 9, 10:30 p.m. ET, StubHub Center Track and Field Stadium