LEESBURG, Va. — San Antonio FC hit the road for the first time in the 2023 season, taking a trip to Virginia to face Loudoun United FC. The defending champions would come away with a point, drawing 1-1 at the end of a competitive match.
The result sees SAFC’s unbeaten streak stay intact at 13 games dating back to last season and remains undefeated on the season.
“I’m proud of the guys’ resilience,” SAFC Head Coach Alen Marcina said. “This was a difficult game, obviously faced with some challenges. … I think we tripled the amount of shots, compared to Loudoun. We did more than enough to win the game.”
Here are three moments from SAFC’s 1-1 draw with Loudoun United FC:
Next man up
San Antonio came into the match with a bigger injury reporter than their season opener last week. Cristian Parano injured himself prior to SAFC’s 3-1 win over Oakland Roots SC and he missed Sunday’s game with a lower-body injury, joining Carter Manley on the list. Both Juan Carlos Azocar and Niko Hansen missed the match due to personal reasons.
That left Marcina to fill the hole left by Hansen, starting Nacho Bailone in his place. The decision proved to pay off as Bailone’s second-half goal would prove to be the difference as San Antonio left Virginia with a point.
“We go into every game wanting to win the game, and we did enough to win. We had a spell in the first half, we started actually off very very strong for the first five minutes we should’ve probably had a couple of goals,” Marcina said. We’ll learn, we’ll take the point and move on.”
Loudoun opened the scoring late in the first half when Zach Ryan got on the end of a ball and beat San Antonio goalkeeper Jordan Farr. SAFC used the halftime break to re-adjust and level the match early on Bailone’s goal in the 54th minute. From there, San Antonio’s defense would not allow a shot on target from Loudoun for the rest of the match.
“I think the team showed a bit of resilience, obviously going a goal down and coming back away from home,” SAFC midfielder Justin Dhillon said. “It’s not what we came to do but at the end of the day the team showed that we fight back and it’s what we preach about being a mentality monster – that a game’s never finished.”
Room to improve
Despite their injury list and undefeated record through two games, San Antonio still has things to improve on if they want to repeat as USL Championship winners in 2023.
“It’s a quiet locker room,” Dhillon said. “We know what it takes to win championships and that’s winning on the road. We did a really good job of that last year, but that was last year and now this year it’s about finding ways to win, finding ways to get points. I mean this is a team that wins, so it feels a bit like a loss and I know that a lot of the guys are feeling like we should’ve had three [points].”
San Antonio FC is now 1-0-1 (4 points) on the season and will return to the pitch next Saturday when they face Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (1-0-1) at 7:30 p.m. at Toyota Field.