San Antonio FC needed a penalty six minutes from time to claim a 1-0 win over Phoenix Rising in an end-to-end match at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex on Saturday night.
In the 84th minute a controversial call was made as Josh Cohen was called for a penalty after clattering in to Cesar Elizondo, in what seemed a 50/50 challenge. That allowed Rafael Castillo to step up and bury the chance sending Cohen the wrong way.
One of the most recognizable combinations in USL, Didier Drogba and Shaun Wright-Phillips had a dangerous chance for Phoenix Rising in the 4th minute. Drogba’s ball forward found Wright-Phillips who looked to flick the ball over the keeper but his effort was cleared by Sebastian Ibeagha.
Poor communication at the back from Phoenix nearly allowed San Antonio midfielder Kris Tyrpak through for a goal. Rafael Castillo sent a ball over the top and Josh Cohen in the Phoenix goal failed to call his defender off leading to a communication error which nearly let Tyrpak through.
Twice in the first 20 minutes of the half, Drogba was given the opportunity to shoot, the first from distance, the ball dipping down but an easy shot to save for Diego Restrepo in the SAFC goal. The second came from a cross as the SAFC defense lost the legendary Ivorian, giving him a free header which was well saved by Restrepo, diving to his right.
A mazey run from Billy Forbes gave San Antonio a corner in the 24th minute as he beat three defenders before attempting to cut it back for a shot, his cut back was deflected out for a corner. SAFC sent the corner deep but, despite the best efforts of AJ Ajeakwa, the ball went out for a goalkick.
Tyrpak should have given San Antonio FC the lead in the 41st minute when Forbes made a good run up the left hand side to get space to set up Tyrpak. Tyrpak overran it just a little and as such was off balance when he got his shot away when he couldn’t get enough on it.
In the first five minutes of the second half Tyrpak was fouled twice, allowing two good free-kick opportunities. The second was from closer range, but Michael Reed was unable to curl it enough to get it on target, letting Phoenix off the hook.
Phoenix should have had the lead in the 69th minute after a Restrepo punch only went as far as Chris Cortes. From the edge of the area Cortes shot but Ben Newnam, returning, was back on the line and cleared it for a corner.