SAN ANTONIO – The ‘Mentality Monsters’ finished the fight.
On Sunday night, San Antonio FC welcomed traditional USL powerhouse Louisville City FC to Toyota Field for the USL Championship Final and promptly dominated them from start to finish in a 3-1 victory that secured the franchise’s first title. Forward Santiago Patiño scored a brace in the victory and was named the match’s Most Valuable Player.
“I’m incredibly proud of everyone because this was a total team effort,” head coach Alen Marcina said. “Santi’s battled injuries, and he’s been resilient. In the playoffs, he’s been absolutely dominant.”
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Patiño said. “We worked really hard this season for this. I’m very happy that we were able to win it with this team and this amazing group of guys.”
After SAFC was unable to convert on multiple quality scoring opportunities throughout the first half, Patiño finally got the home side on the board in the 48th minute of stoppage time with a perfectly-struck penalty kick. With that all-important first goal under their belts, San Antonio opened the flood gates in the second half. On a brilliant set piece, Mitchell Taintor redirected a free kick with a header right to Sam Adeniran who headed it past the keeper for a 2-0 advantage. Six minutes later, midfielder Cristian Parano dazzled with an incredible dribble, passed ahead Mohammed Abu, who then found Patiño for the third goal of the night, as the record-breaking crowd at Toyota Field erupted in celebration. Louisville eventually broke through SAFC’s stifling defense with a goal late in regulation, but by that point the match was well in hand.
“We knew that we weren’t going to lose at home,” Taintor said. “We knew that it wasn’t a matter of if we were going to win, it was a matter of how much. These fans give us so much confidence, and it’s a truly special place to play in the playoffs. There’s no other place like it.”
“It’s finally come to fruition, and we have a championship,” defender Connor Maloney explained. “I’m so, so excited for everybody on this team because we’ve given our effort all year long. Everyone has doubted us because of our style of play, but our style of play has taken us to the top. Now, we’re champions.”
San Antonio FC is the first club in USL Championship history to finish with the best overall regular season record and win the title. This season, the Alamo City club earned five separate trophies: the Copa Tejas, the Copa Tejas Shield, the Regular Season Champion Shield, the Western Conference Championship trophy and the USL Championship Cup.
This also marks the first professional soccer title for the city of San Antonio since the Scorpions won the Soccer Bowl on November 15, 2014.