Rio Grande Valley FC defeats San Antonio FC 1-0; Texas MLS Recap; 2018 US Open Cup

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SAFC LOSES FIRST HOME GAME OF SEASON TO IN-STATE RIVAL

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San Antonio FC (SAFC) lost its first home game of the season 1-0 to in-state rivals Rio Grande Valley FC (RGV FC) Toros in front of 8,125 at Toyota Field Saturday night.

An exquisite 17th minute goal by Honduran RGV FC midfielder Jose Escalante was the difference in the match.  Escalante, surrounded by three defenders, chipped the ball from just inside the penalty area inches under the bar to the far-right corner over an outstretched SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo.

SAFC played a man down for 70 minutes as defender Ben Newnam was shown a straight red for unsportsmanlike conduct in the 20th minute.  Escalante had taken Newnam down on a clumsy challenge and the SAFC defender reacted by kicking at, and appeared to hit, the head of Escalante.  The ejection forced tactical changes to SAFC’s lineup, but the home side still controlled most of play for the remainder of the match despite playing a man short.  This red card was only the beginning of what turned out to be an intense rivalry game.  The referee issued six additional yellow cards during the match, including three in a short period during a scuffle in first half stoppage time.

SAFC Coach Darren Powell discussed the effort generated by the team, despite playing short-handed for most of the match.  “We played with 10 men for 70 minutes and we created lots of chances. There were times when we turned the last defender but didn’t take the opportunity when we did that, and we had shots cleared off the line. The 10 players that were there worked extremely hard against the opposing 11 and deserved more than they got tonight.”

The home side was unlucky to not score, especially in a 6-minute stretch early in the second half when Cesar Elizondo had three clear opportunities, two of which were saved by RGVFC goalkeeper Calle Brown and one that was cleared off the line by a Toros defender.  RGV FC also had good chances, but were stymied by SAFC defender Sebastian Ibeagha who made three game-saving plays and Restrepo who made two big saves late in the match on Toros attacker TJ Casner.

After the game, SAFC midfielder Kris Tyrpak commented on the intensity of the in-state rivalry and what will be needed from the team going forward.  “Every game is going to be a step-up. It’s going to escalate, and that’s what you want in a derby match, but if we come out and play the way we played this game every single game for the rest of this season, I think we’ll be sitting pretty at the end of the year.”

RGVFC, who are a hybrid-affiliate of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Houston Dynamo, started 5 players on loan from the Dynamo, including goal scorer Escalante.

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RGV FC Players celebrate Jose Escalante’s 17th minute goal

Saturday night was Military Appreciation Night at Toyota Field and, additionally, SAFC is donating all ticket proceeds (over $100,000) from the match to Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.

With the loss, SAFC (14-4-10-52 points) falls into third place in the United Soccer League Western Conference, five points behind the conference leaders.  RGV FC (9-13-7-34 points) kept its slim playoff hopes alive with the victory.  San Antonio travels to Tulsa this Saturday night to play its final away match of the regular season against the Roughnecks

TEXAS MLS RECAP

FC Dallas (FCD) continued its poor run of form, losing 4-1 to expansion side Minnesota United FC on the road Saturday.  Dallas is now winless in 10 matches and in danger of missing out of the playoffs, an almost inexplicable result since FCD was tabbed as one of the favorites to win the league as recently as a couple of months ago.  Houston Dynamo secured a tie in Hartford, CT against a quality New York City FC side on a goal from Mauro Manotas, engineered from a quick restart by veteran forward Vicente Sanchez.  With the draw and other favorable results over the weekend, Houston remains just out of a playoff spot on tiebreakers.  Both Texas MLS teams, who will play twice this week against teams not likely to make the playoffs, have an excellent chance to put themselves back into the playoff discussion with favorable results.

2018 LAMAR HUNT US OPEN CUP BEGINS PLAY IN TEXAS  

Earlier this week Sporting Kansas City defeated New York Red Bulls 2-1 in Kansas City, Kansas to win the 2017 US Open Cup (its fourth).  With no break in action, the long process to determine the 2018 champion has already begun.  The opening round of Open Division Local Qualifying (1st Round) kicked off on Saturday, with 98 teams taking the field to begin the process for the 105th iteration of the national championship, which is open to both professional and amateur teams.

Two matches took place in Texas, both hosted by teams from the Austin area.  In the first match, North Texas side NTX Rayados defeated Central Texas Lobos 2-0 in Kyle.  Austin’s Celtic Cowboys Premier defeated fellow Austin side Real Cuauhtémoc 3-2 in Georgetown. This was Celtic Cowboy’s first ever US Open Cup match.

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Goal Scorers in 3-2 local qualifying victory (Celtic Cowboys Facebook)

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