Coming off the 5-1 beat down on the road in Albuquerque last week, it was important for the Monarchs to respond well as they returned home and looked to extend their early season dominance at Zions Bank Stadium with a another positive result. With David Ochoa on the bench last night in Cincinnati with RSL, Evan Finney got his first professional start in goal. Douglas Martinez, a late scratch against New Mexico, and Tate Schmitt, on assignment from RSL, also returned to the starting lineup.
San Antonio FC have always been a bit of a bugaboo for the Monarchs and the first twenty minutes seemed to follow in line as Brian Gómez almost single-handedly put a couple of easy shots past Finney to give San Antonio a quick 2-0 lead. In the seventh minute, Gómez intercepted a errant pass across the back and then in the seventeenth a perfect pass from Walter Restrepo put Gomez in on goal and he finished into a empty net after dribbling past Finney.
The Monarchs had several good looks and forced a couple of saves from the bearded SAFC goalkeeper Matt Cardone, but San Antonio had pulled back into a five man defensive line when they were without the ball. The first half ended without any change in the scoreboard, but it quickly became apparent that Martin Vasquez had decided to go all out for points as both Kyle Coffee and Masta Kachar went through an extensive warm up while the rest of the team was in the locker room.
With the addition of Coffee and Kachar they Monarchs went to four high attacking players at the start of the second half and found a quick reward. James Moberg was pulled down in the box on a set piece in the 48th minute and Mikael Chang converted to bring the match back to 2-1. The game started to become very chippy and tempers were lost on both sides, This culminated when Coffee was cut down from behind in the box and Jack Blake tied the match at 2-2 with the a nice PK.
Following subsequent yellow cards to Michael Lahoud and Walter Restrepo of San Antonio and Jordan Pena of the Monarchs and the ejection of San Antonio Head Coach Darren Powell things settled down as both sides pushed for a go ahead goal. It was the Monarchs who struck first as a nice cross from Douglas Martinez found the head of Kyle Coffee who sent it home for the 3-2 lead.
The Monarchs then shifted in a much more defense posture with the substitution of Konrad Plewa and managed to hold fast for the victory.
After the match Head Coach MArtin Vazquez summed up the comeback as follows.
“All week, after New Mexico, we talked about responding. I thought we had a bad game against New Mexico. We started off well and ended up learning from that moment, from that game. We started off, not flat, but making individual mistakes. A couple of personal mistakes, and we’re down 2-0. After the 2-0, or even before, we were getting chances. If at halftime we put one in, it’s maybe fair to say that it’s a 2-1 game. But after halftime, when we made a couple changes, we talked about keeping the momentum that we ended the first half with. That happened, and there was still a lot of game to play. Patience. We settled the game down; we got our chances, and took them well. The three points is a recognition or a reward for the response that they had.”
The Monarchs travel to Austin for their first match with expansion side Austin Bold next Friday, April 26th.