SAFC traveled to Carson, California Wednesday night to take on Western Conference leaders LA Galaxy II (Los Dos) and an offense that has recorded a league-leading 10 goals through the first 5 games of the season.
Midfielder Seba Thuriere made his first start of the season and immediately made an impact on defense, dropping Los Dos forward Jose Villarreal twice within the first 12 minutes and earning himself a yellow card. The attention paid to Villarreal was warranted however, as he and fellow strikers McBean and Lassiter mounted a sustained offensive campaign throughout the match that looked to be the strongest challenge to date for SAFC’s back line.
Los Dos appeared happy to keep SAFC in its own half and let attacks develop as vulnerabilities appeared in the defense, but the first shot on goal was from an SAFC player, and didn’t come until the 18th minute when Alvarez managed to get the ball to Thuriere who sailed one high from about 30 feet out. LA continued its aggression, managing to establish its vaunted offense, but not quite able to find the net. McBride helped to anchor the defense, and Alvarez (an LA native returning to his former stomping grounds) came up with a huge clearance in the 19th minute that prevented a point-blank shot from inside the 6. Three minutes later Lassiter broke free, found his way inside the 18 in yet another tense moment for SAFC fans, but this time it was McCarthy who was there to prevent the shot. Although Los Dos fans called for a PK, and the replay showed a tackle that could’ve been interpreted as a foul, officials decided it was clean and the game remained scoreless.
As LA continued its offensive onslaught, SAFC struggled to find rhythm on both sides of the field. The frustration mounted for the boys in white as the defense couldn’t keep Los Dos from manufacturing focused attacks, while offensively, passes were simply not finding their mark. The hammer finally dropped in the 40th minute when LA defender Josh Turnley found McBean, slicing in on a near post run, put it in the net for the first score of the game. SAFC started to wake up shortly thereafter, Danny Garcia finding Alvarez at one point and forcing LA Keeper Clement Diop to come some 40 yards out in what was a risky, yet successful challenge.
Surprisingly, LA changed up their strategy a bit in the second half, attempting to get long balls into the wings and make runs at the defense from there, but the approach didn’t appear to be as successful as the runs up the middle from McBean and company in the first half. The SAFC offensive push continued to be disjointed, only playing Johnson high, which looked good when he got the ball and was able to create, but attempts to get him the ball were unsuccessful more times than not. In the 49th minute SAFC had a chance with 4 in the box, but a long shot from Thuriere went wide. Not long after, a relay from Garcia to Thuriere to Johnson ended up in an absolutely brilliant run that would’ve ended up in a 1 v 1 opportunity for Johnson, but was was very questionably called offsides.
SAFC began to find their footing at this point, looking sharper, winning balls, executing in the passing game, and establishing meaningful possessions. It was at this point Coach Powell, looking for answers, mixed things up, subbing Okiomah for Moseley, Castillo for Thuriere, and Sanchez for Johnson, all within an 8 minute window. Castillo contributed immediately, helping to break up a Los Dos possession that seemed to last for an eternity, but was quickly followed by another McBean run that was correctly called offsides. LA continued to threaten to add to their 1-0 lead, while SAFC appeared to suffer from a lack of urgency. Slager and forward Bradford Jamieson maneuvered in the SAFC penalty box at will for far too long, resulting in Slager getting an open shot on goal, but stalwart Ford was there for the save. LA relentlessly continued to threaten into the 71st minute when McBean came off for forward Jaime Villarreal.
As the half wound down SAFC, seemingly sparked by the effort of Manolo Sanchez, began to finally establish a pattern on offense. Garcia came off in he 75th for Victor Araujo and the pieces started to fall into place. Castillo clearly brought stability to the offense, fighting for and winning balls, and bringing a consistency to the offense. He looked confident. A long ball to Araujo, resulted in throw in, but to no avail. Palacios then got it to Castillo, who was fouled, took the free kick, lobbed it into the box where it was headed by McBride to Sanchez, who headed it to McCarthy, who headed it yet again to an open Alvarez who then delivered an equalizer from the left side of the defense in the 89th minute.
What followed was an impatient LA effort that did result in a somewhat dangerous header that was handled by Ford, and with 1 minute to go, SAFC’s Araujo found an open Sanchez but an offsides call quickly put an end to what was, ironically, the first sign of consistent offensive production from San Antonio all night.
SAFC (1-0-2) will travel to Irvine, California this Saturday to take on the Orange County Blues FC (0-2-1) in hopes of continuing to accumulate points and refine their strategy and skill going forward.