SAN ANTONIO — After the fireworks, hoopla, and banner unveiling to celebrate their 2022 USL Championship Final win, San Antonio FC opened the 2023 campaign with a 3-1 victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,106 fans at Toyota Field.
The victory extended an unbeaten streak for San Antonio to 12 games, dating back to last season.
Here are three moments from San Antonio FC’s 3-1 win over Oakland:
You score, you win
Coming into the match, San Antonio FC was 17-0-2 through 19 matches when scoring first. That stand held true on Saturday thanks to two first half goals to give the defending champions a cushion going into the second half.
The second 45 minutes saw Oakland get one back in a scramble around goal but San Antonio’s defense would lock in to keep the Roots from getting anything set on offense, resulting in another home win.
“The fans, sold out stadium, were incredibly loud, passionate,” SAFC Head Coach Alen Marcina said. “Players feed off their energy. Our game model is obviously very very demanding of our players. They leave everything they have out on the field and we do it for our fans. Overall, pleased with the three points. Obviously, some things we need to work on.”
Let’s get physical
The opening match of the season was a physical one as Oakland was pushing around the SAFC squad, getting three yellow cards in the opening 20 minutes.
After a season where San Antonio was the more physical squad, one has to wonder if teams will be even more physical when they see SAFC on their calendar. However, Marcina said his team will be ready for the challenge.
“We enjoy the chaos,” Marcina said. “We’ll be ready.”
Newcomers make an impact
There was not much turnover for SAFC in the offseason but losing key offensive weapons in Sam Adeniran and Santiago Patino will not be easy. Saturday saw what the offense could look like in 2023 and if so, San Antonio would not miss a beat.
Niko Hansen opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a beautiful goal over the outstretched reach of the Oakland keeper. Lamar Batista began his San Antonio debut with a brace and an assist, scoring in first half stoppage time and an incredible lob from near midfield in the 74th minute to give SAFC a two-goal lead.
“It’s been a long last two or three years for me – trying to get minutes and being healthy,” Hansen said. “Everything that I’ve done up until this point just reaffirms that what I’m doing is right and what I’m doing is good. I’m happy for the team obviously, everything that they’ve done and they’ve pushed me, given me the confidence.”
San Antonio FC is now 1-0-0 (3 points) on the season and will return to the pitch next Sunday when they face Loudoun United FC at 3 p.m. for their first road match of 2023.