SAN ANTONIO (Fwrd Axis) — Inches. That’s how close the last place Rio Grande Valley FC Toros came from pulling off a shocking upset of the top-seeded San Antonio FC squad but Mitch Taintor had other ideas.
Taintor and SAFC, the “mentality monsters” as they are called, would use a second-half rally to preserve a point and play to a 2-2 draw at Toyota Field on Saturday night to keep a hold of the top spot in the USL Championship standings.
The result sees SAFC keep ahold of the top spot in the USL Championship with 57 points. However, they no longer have control of their own destiny as Louisville City FC earned a 1-0 win over Detroit City FC on Saturday to move two points behind San Antonio with a game in hand.
“I’m proud of the guys’ resilience,” San Antonio FC Head Coach Alen Marcina said. “To go two goals down on our mistakes, not what they did … errors on our part, it’s unacceptable – to continue to fight, to show the resilience and get the draw. We wanted the win, but we’ll learn from this, take the point, recover and move on.”
San Antonio started the game flat and would pay for it in the 35th minute when Christian Pinzon got on the end of a perfect set piece, which deflected its way past SAFC goalkeeper Jordan Farr to put the visitors up a goal. RGV struck again a minute later off a high-arching shot from Akeem Ward to put the side up 2-0 going into the second half.
The score would hold until the one-hour mark when Shannon Gomez scored off the feed from Cristian Parano to cut the deficit in half in the 59th minute. Despite several yellow cards and time-wasting attempts, SAFC was able to equalize in stoppage time when Mitchell Taintor put home a header to secure a point for the home side.
“It just speaks to the resilience of the group,” Gomez said of Taintor’s goal. “We’re at home and we have a fighting spirit. We have things that we want to do. We have guidelines, we have certain stuff that we need to follow, and resilience is number one on that list.”
Marcina has preached his squad are “mentality monsters” and that mantra has held strong for the season. However, championship teams find a way to win games such as Saturday night and that might be what is frustrating SAFC the most.
“It just shows, especially at this level, that you give a team a couple of chances and anything can happen,” Taintor said. “They scored almost an identical goal to what Nicky did last week, and you know I didn’t text that guy. But it was really unfortunate we weren’t tuned in, and we got punished for it. So that’s on us, and that’s something that we really need to take a hard look in the mirror and fix for next week.”
San Antonio FC is now 18-4-3 (57 points) on the season and will return to the pitch next Saturday to face Indy Eleven (6-14-4) at 6 p.m.