There was a certain buzz in the soccer air as April of 2016 approached in San Antonio. Spurs Sports & Entertainment was about to debut its new soccer club in the USL for the team’s inaugural season. San Antonio FC continued a tradition of pro soccer in the Alamo City after taking over from the successful Scorpions who brought a championship and passionate fans to Toyota Field.
Excitement grew as the club’s home opener against the Swope Park Rangers grew near. However, the club would have to first navigate a road test away to the then Seattle Sounders 2. SAFC couldn’t have started any better, defeating Seattle 3-0 thanks to two goals from Jason Johnson in the first week of the season. Anticipation boiled over, and Toyota Field was sold out for the upcoming April 9 home opener just 72 hours after the first away game.
San Antonio FC debuted in a 4-3-3 with the aforementioned Johnson leading the line, and captain Josh Ford between the sticks. With the record crowd in full voice, the match kicked off marking a new era in San Antonio soccer. Despite all the pre-game momentum, it was the Swope Park Rangers who would start bright and ruin the early party just two minutes in. Daniel Salloi scored from a corner kick and gave Swope an early lead and SAFC an uphill battle.
However, San Antonio worked their way into the match and controlled the rest of the first half. Finally, in the 42nd minute the pressure would pay off and SAFC would make history. Midfielder Carlos Alvarez took a nice lay-off from Johnson before playing a perfect through-ball to teammate Danny Garcia. Garcia cut to his left foot and curled a shot past the goalkeeper into the net as he simultaneously was tumbled over by the onrushing Jon Kempis. The goal shifted all momentum to SAFC as the two teams entered the break level at one.
The second half failed to live up to the first, with both team struggling to create clear-cut scoring opportunities. SAFC had their best chances to snag all three points when Johnson had a shot saved by Kempin midway through the second half, and Rafa Castillo has his late free-kick saved in stoppage time. The match ended and SAFC had earned a tough 1-1 draw against a team that would eventually make their way to the USL Championship game in 2016.
The real victory, however, came in the form of the fans. Toyota Field welcomed 8,466 fans to watch the first SAFC home match in history. That number was and still stands as a record for the seven-year-old venue. The match set the stage for SAFC at home, as the club as still lost just 10 league matches at Toyota Field since the start of the 2016 season.
SPR: 0-1, Daniel Salloi ‘2
SAFC: 1-1, Danny Garcia ’42 (Carlos Alvarez assist)
SAFC Starting XI: GK: Josh Ford (c); D: Milton Palacios, Stephen McCarthy, Sam McBride, Greg Cochrane; M: Michael Reed, Rafa Castillo, Carlos Alvarez (Victor Araujo ’90); F: Bobby Moseley (Manolo Sanchez ’67), Danny Garcia (Carlos Alvarez ’55), Jason Johnson
Substitutions Not Used: Matt Cardone, Miguel Salazar, Sebastien Thuriere, Fejiro Okiomah
Full Match Below: