Photo courtesy Ralph Mawyer Jr. / San Antonio FC
SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio FC scored with two minutes to go as it grabbed a late 1-1 draw against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday night at Toyota Field. Tampa Bay threatened early as Martin Paterson put a low shot on goal that forced a save by Diego Restrepo from the right side of the penalty area. San Antonio’s first chance came on an indirect free kick off a backpass by the Rowdies, but the visitors emerged unscathed, and the Darwin Jones forced another good low save from Restrepo by the left post in the 13th minute. San Antonio’s Omar Gordon proved dangerous for the hosts, and forced a low save by Matt Pickens in the 24th minute, and the Jamaican went close again in the final minute of the first half as Pickens punched his long-range drive away to safety. The Rowdies threatened again in the 64th minute as Marcel Schäfer’s corner kick from the left was headed on target by Tam Mkandawire, only for Restrepo to save, while Jones flashed a shot high for the visitors a few minutes later. Tampa Bay found the breakthrough in the 69th minute, however, as a cushioned header by Walter Restrepo laid on a sharp finish by Georgi Hristov from 12 yards. San Antonio almost hit back immediately as Cesar Elizondo sent a good chance wide of the right post from the center of the penalty area, and San Antonio had a late chance through Gordon after a good low cross by Billy Forbes from the left found the Jamaican, only for his finish to go well high. But San Antonio grabbed its late equalizer with two minutes to go as a low cross by Forbes made it all the way through the six-yard area and let Ever Guzman finish at the back post to leave honors even in the interconference clash.
69’ – TBR – Georgi Hristov (Walter Restrepo)
88’ – SA – Ever Guzman (Billy Forbes)
Three Things That Matter:
1. After Wednesday night’s victory against the New York Red Bulls II, the Tampa Bay Rowdies put themselves in control of its chances at a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference standings. After a late concession on Saturday night when the victory was there for the taking, Tampa Bay will now need help to take the No. 2-seed in the postseason that would provide a major boost to its USL Cup hopes. The Rowdies will have the chance to put pressure on the Charleston Battery as it takes on Orlando City B on Thursday night. Anything but a win, however, and the Rowdies will be looking at potentially only one home game in the postseason.
2. The Rowdies came to an end of an arduous run of games over the past two weeks on Saturday night, but it was two veterans that also put in solid shifts in Wednesday night’s win against New York that came through again against San Antonio. Both forward Georgi Hristov – who scored the opening goal of the game for his team-leading 12th goal of the season – and midfielder Marcel Schäfer – who provided the initial cross that allowed Walter Restrepo to set up the chance – went 90 minutes against the Red Bulls II, but showed little ill effect as they came through in a massive win for the side.
3. San Antonio was also in control of its chances to finish second in the Western Conference going into Saturday’s contest, and thanks to its late equalizer still has the inside track to second place ahead of Reno 1868 FC and the Swope Park Rangers. The margin for error is now reduced, San Antonio will need to win each of its last two games at home over the next week, but Ever Guzman’s first goal for the club tossed it a lifeline it will be eager to take advantage of after a tense outing on Saturday night.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Billy Forbes, San Antonio FC – Forbes looked like he would be the player to create the chance as SAFC pushed for an equalizer in the final 20 minutes, and managed to do so as his low cross gave Ever Guzman the chance to level in the 88th minute.
San Antonio FC vs. Portland Timbers 2 – October 11, 8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Field
Tampa Bay Rowdies at Orlando City B – October 12, 7:30 p.m. ET, Orlando City Stadium