SAN ANTONIO – Last week, San Antonio FC let an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth slip away.
Deadlocked at 1-1 with El Paso Locomotive FC on the road, the Alamo City club allowed an own goal late in stoppage time. That mistake resulted in the team’s first loss of the season, snapping an 11-match unbeaten streak. On Wednesday night, SAFC had a chance to bounce back at home and faced a similar situation against Austin Bold FC.
This time, Jose Gallegos came to the rescue.
The Central Catholic High School product scored the game-winning goal in the second half to give San Antonio a 3-2 victory over Austin. With the win, SAFC clinched Group D’s top seed and secured the team’s first playoff berth since 2017. San Antonio improves to 9-1-3 on the season and leads the entire USL Western Conference standings with 30 points.
For the second time this season, forward Luis Solignac opened the scoring in the first minute of play. Midfielder Cristian Parano found his fellow Argentinian cutting into the box and he buried a shot into the back of the net to give San Antonio a 1-0 lead. This marks the sixth straight match Solignac has tallied a goal. Austin had a chance to tie the match in the 45th minute, but goalkeeper Matt Cardone denied former San Antonio forward Billy Forbes with a diving save to send SAFC into the locker room with their one-goal lead intact.
After Austin equalized early in the second half, Parano responded with a goal of his own five minute later. Parano cut to his left and blasted a strike just past the outstretched arm of the diving Austin keeper and inside the far post to regain a 2-1 advantage. That lead lasted all of six minutes. Sean McFarlane tallied Austin’s second equalizer of the night in the 61st minute to tie the match at 2-2.
That’s when Gallegos delivered arguably the biggest goal of his professional career. In the 72nd minute, Ignacio Bailone kept the ball alive along the sideline, then sent a high arcing pass into a space towards the back of the box. Gallegos settled the ball down, twice hesitated, then smoked a shot towards the far post and in to tally his second goal of the season. That score held up as the game-winner.
Now, for the second time in club history, San Antonio can start preparing for a playoff run. In their last appearance in 2017, SAFC earned the second seed and advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals before being eliminated by OKC Energy FC on penalty kicks.
San Antonio FC will wrap up their home schedule with a match against OKC this Saturday at 8 p.m. Afterwards, they will finish the regular season with two road matches against FC Tulsa and Austin Bold FC.