Tempers boiled over between San Antonio FC and the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. Photo: San Antonio FC
San Antonio FC (USL) defeated league rival Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (USL) in penalty kicks Wednesday night to advance to the Open Cup’s Fourth Round. This is the second time, and first since 2016, that SAFC will advance to the Fourth Round, and also marks San Antonio’s first penalty shootout victory ever. Colorado Springs failed to reach the Fourth Round for the second consecutive year, last reaching it in 2016.
The first half got off to a quick start when 16-year-old San Antonio FC Academy product Ethan Bryant earned a penalty in the 8th minute. Veteran midfielder Rafa Castillo then calmly dispatched the ball past Colorado Springs goalie Moise Pouaty, sending him the opposite direction. On Bryant, head coach Darren Powell said, “The boy’s 16 years old. He comes out tonight and plays 120 minutes in his first professional game and he didn’t look out of place at all.”
The visitors would equalize in the 26th minute off a Josh Suggs corner kick. Switchbacks forward Tobenna Uzo headed home the corner past Matt Cardone. San Antonio had a chance to take the lead going into halftime; some fancy footwork in the box created a searing shot from Maxi Rodriguez which forced Pouaty into a stretch to prevent the goal.
San Antonio’s Mikey Lopez reacts after kicking the match-winning penalty kick as San Antonio FC defeated Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. Photo: Darren Abate | USL
The second half saw much of the same attacking sense by both sides but Colorado looked to get the game-winner as they pushed forward more frequently than San Antonio. The match got more physical halfway through after some hard fouls, and no calls, by both clubs. Colorado Springs nearly took the lead late off what would have been an own goal by Chris Christian – to the relief of the home fans, the ball just went over the bar in front of goal for a corner. Full time would ultimately come with both sides still in a deadlock.
Extra time was more of the same: Colorado Springs was the more aggressive team, testing the San Antonio defense, trying to wear them down. The visitors had many chances to take the lead, none better than a golden opportunity that went just wide left as Switchbacks forward Martin Maybin was 1v1 with Cardone. The extra period ended with a scrum near midfield as Saeed Robinson saw his second yellow after a hard tackle. The extra time whistle blew before San Antonio could take advantage of being a man up on the Switchbacks.
In the penalty shootout, San Antonio FC scored all five of their goals while Colorado Springs midfielder Uriel Macias sailed his shot, Colorado’s fourth, above the crossbar. Mikey Lopez scored his next shot which sent SAFC to the next round. SAFC defender and captain Stephen McCarthy was relieved to get a win in PK’s, “It’s so great. That’s it. It’s great.”