In a line up of essentially two academies San Antonio FC defeated a spirited Club de Lyon 2-1 after extra time to advance to the Third Round of the 2023 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in front of 3024 fans at Toyota Field.
Kevin Hernandez stunned the hosts when he opened the scoring in the 51st minute. After a shot that was saved onto the post allowing Hernandez to react quickly and tap home the rebound.
San Antonio FC finally got back into the match in the 80th minute with its first clear chance of the match. A good run from Adrian Valencia squared the ball to Dane Augustin in space in the box, allowing him a simple finish to equalize and send the match to extra time.
In the 98th minute, a tight penalty call gave San Antonio a chance to wrap things up. Roman Holt stepped up to the spot and passed the ball into the back of the net to seal the 2-1 win.
“Incredibly proud,” said San Antonio FC Head Coach Alen Marcina. “Our academy boys did the team proud, their family proud and the city proud. We called them mentality mini-monsters.”
Before the match even started there was controversy with Club de Lyon FC complaining about having too many cup tied players. This was due to entering the tournament as an amateur side (and being eliminated last week) and as a professional side. Many of the players who likely would have made up the professional roster were cup-tied to the amateur side because they competed in the Open Division Local qualifying tournament. That left the visitors with only 12 men to play in the match.
CLASS???? pic.twitter.com/QLQBLe8sNH— San Antonio FC (@SanAntonioFC) April 5, 2023
San Antonio FC made things harder for themselves before the opening whistle. Marcina opted to play an entirely academy line up apart from goalkeeper Carlos Mercado and almost paid the price.
“We have 10 or 11 pro-players available, so one kick and we wouldn’t be able to field a team on Saturday,” said Marcina. “I wouldn’t change the decision.”
It was a disjointed game due to the nature of the two lineups but it was apparent that San Antonio FC had the early advantage.
The best chances for Club de Lyon was off set-pieces, a corner in the 17th hminute looking especially promising but it was too powerful. For all of SAFC’s promise it was Lyon who had the better chances, a brilliant through ball forcing Mercado off his line.
The task got much more difficult for the visitors when the only substitute they had available was used in the 38th minute. Cristhian Arroyave came on for Gabriel Pellegrino who had taken a number of knocks in the early stages and just couldn’t keep going. That didn’t stop the chances as it was Lyon still having the better chances but just missing that final product.
Only a stunning double-save from Mercado kept the match scoreless in the first three minutes of the second half. His save on the first was at full-stretch before the rebound was well dealt with as well. He was bailed out by his defense on a third shot sparing SAFC.
San Antonio FC should have opened the scoring in the 54th minute, Eduardo Fernandez sprung the offside trap and was clean through but could only put it on the roof of the net.
Mercado had to save the day in the 120th minute as a corner was headed towards the upper 90 by his opposing goalkeeper but his save salvaged a fortuitous win for a San Antonio academy side.