EDINBURG – San Antonio FC held a one-goal lead for the vast majority of regulation and stoppage time, and thanks a strong defensive effort, the team appeared to be on their way to a second straight victory.
Rio Grande Valley FC had other plans.
New Toros acquisition Taiberson scored the equalizer late in stoppage time on a left-footed shot from outside the box, and SAFC was forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in their first regular season match since the USL suspended play in March. San Antonio still earned a point in USL Championship play, and moves to 1-0-1 on the season.
It didn’t take long for the Alamo City club to find their footing on the pitch. In just the third minute of play, midfielder Cristian Parano controlled a redirected header from Luis Solignac and buried a right-footed shot past the Toros’ keeper to open the scoring. This marks Parano’s eighth career goal with SAFC and Solignac’s second assist in as many matches. San Antonio held the lead for the next 91 minutes until Taiberson drew RGV level in the 94th minute.
“We are happy for Cristian,” head coach Alen Marcina said. “Prior to the hiatus, he wasn’t available for game number one so to have him back now is a big boost for the team. He scored a nice goal for us and worked both ends of the ball well and we expect even more from him moving forward.”
“Guys were excited just to get back on the field today,” defender Connor Maloney explained. “We showed well up until the last minute. You have to play the game out. Its unfortunate, but we go away with a tie and we have to be ready to play them next week. I wanted to win today, every guy in the locker room wanted to win today, but it’s not how it panned out today. We will work on it and get back to it on Saturday.”
Goalkeeper Matt Cardone performed valiantly, saving 18 of the 19 shots he faced. Fellow San Antonio native Jose Gallegos was not part of the starting lineup and substituted in for Jesús “Chuy” Enríquez in the 49th minute. Boerne native Blake Smith did start, but he suffered an injury and was replaced by defender Kai Greene in the 68th minute.
This match was originally scheduled for Friday, July 17, but was postponed on Thursday due to an undisclosed member of RGV’s staff testing positive for the coronavirus. Twenty-four hours later, the game was officially rescheduled to Sunday night. No fans were allowed to attend the match.
Both teams will face each other again next Saturday, July 25 at Toyota Field, marking San Antonio’s first home game since their season-opening victory over Real Monarchs SLC on March 7. Fans will not be allowed to attend due to health and safety concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19 in the Alamo City.