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Gameday Report: July 25, Week 20

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 07/25/18, 10:44PM EDT

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San Antonio boosts playoff hopes, downs Switchbacks; Nashville grabs late winner through Washington


Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

THREE THINGS THAT MATTERED

1. San Antonio FC gave its chances of a second consecutive trip to the USL Cup Playoffs a major boost in a 1-0 victory against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC that also made the road for the visitors to Toyota Field that much steeper to make the postseason. An early second-half goal by Kyle Murphy – his first for SAFC – proved the difference in the game as San Antonio took a second win in a row and moved within a point of eighth-place Fresno FC while still holding three games in hand on the Foxes.

2. SAFC was the big winner in two key Western Conference games on Wednesday night as OKC Energy FC and Fresno FC played to a 0-0 draw at Taft Stadium, the last result both sides would have been looking for in a tight playoff race. Energy FC might have felt itself the more deserving of the victory after creating some good looks on goal and hitting the woodwork late, but with the sides combining for only four shots on goal total there just wasn’t quite enough quality for either side to take all three points, which ended up greatly to San Antonio’s advantage.

3. A defender by trade, Taylor Washington hadn’t found the net in his previous 74 appearances in the USL. Heck, he’d only recorded one shot on goal last season when he made 28 appearances for Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, but with his first professional goal the 24-year-old full back gave Nashville just the lift it was looking for in a 1-0 victory against ATL UTD 2 at First Tennessee Park that further bolstered the club’s postseason hopes. Now in sixth place in the Eastern Conference going into Saturday’s game with Toronto FC II, Head Coach Gary Smith’s side wasn’t at its best on Wednesday, but still managed a victory nonetheless.

GAME REPORTS

SAN ANTONIO FC (1), COLORADO SPRINGS SWITCHBACKS FC (0)

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio FC picked up its second consecutive victory as it defeated Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 1-0 before a crowd of 6,307 at Toyota Field in the USL Game of the Week to move within a point of the playoff positions in the Western Conference. San Antonio took the lead 10 minutes into the second half, however, as Kyle Murphy flicked home a header off a cross by Darnell Kick from the right. The Switchbacks almost answered immediately, only for SAFC goalkeeper Matt Cardone to keep out Marty Maybin’s effort after Cardone had mishandled a low cross. Shane Malcolm also went close to an equalizer for the Switchbacks with a shot from 20 yards that just missed the top-right corner with 18 minutes to go, while Colorado Springs goalkeeper Steward Ceus had to make a big double-save to keep out a blast by Sonny Guadarrama and follow-up chance for Mike Seth. SAFC didn’t need an insurance goal, however, as it took a big three points in its pursuit of a return to the postseason.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Darnell King, San Antonio FC
– King provided an excellent cross for the lone goal of the game and was stout defensively with eight interceptions and six clearances while winning 17 of 28 duels overall.

NASHVILLE SC (1), ATL UTD 2 (0)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nashvile SC claimed a late 1-0 victory against ATL UTD 2 at First Tennessee Stadium as Taylor Washington’s first professional goal proved the difference before a crowd of 8,729 fans. Nashville went close in the 19th minute when a cross fell to Lebo Moloto near the penalty spot but his shot to the right corner was turned wide by Atlanta goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt. The visitors then had a big chance inside the opening minute of the second half as a scramble in the Nashville penalty area fell to Andrew Wheeler-Ominu, who stabbed his shot just wide of the right post. NSC took the lead with 10 minutes to go, however, as second-half substitute Taylor Washington scored his first goal of the season, putting home a close-range finish at the back post off a low cross from the right by Ish Jome and that proved the difference in the contest.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Taylor Washington, Nashville SC
– Washington’s first professional goal arrived in his 75th appearance in the USL and earned his side an important three points in its pursuit of the postseason.

OKC ENERGY FC (0), FRESNO FC (0)

OKLAHOMA CITY – OKC Energy FC and Fresno FC played to a 0-0 draw as both continued to battle for their place in the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs in a tight affair at Taft Stadium. Fresno had the first good chance of the contest in the 11th minute when Christian Chaney was denied by a low save from OKC’s Bryan Byars. Energy FC’s Philip Ramussen forced a big save by Foxes goalkeeper Kyle Reynish in the 26th minute with a shot from 25 yards to the top-right corner that the veteran was just able to turn over the crossbar, and the hosts threatened again two minutes before halftime as a clever pass by Jose Barril slid Alex Dixon into the penalty area, only for his shot to be partially blocked and dribble wide of the right post. Energy FC almost grabbed victory late on through Drew Beckie, whose header looped off the top of the crossbar with three minutes to go, but the game ended scoreless to leave both sides with a point.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Ramon Martin del Campo, Fresno FC
– Del Campo recorded 10 clearances and won one tackle as the visitors limited Energy FC to only one shot on goal for the contest.

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