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A man down, S.A. draws Rangers

June 4, 2017 GMT

San Antonio FC has found numerous ways to remain unbeaten through the first few months of the season. The local club has relied on big scoring nights, lock-down defense and opportunistic goals.

Add playing shorthanded to the resume.

San Antonio FC held off a few anxious late moments and tied Swope Park Rangers 0-0 Saturday in a United Soccer League contest before 6,307 at Toyota Field.

Starting defender Greg Cochrane was red-carded in the 81st minute for a serious foul, forcing San Antonio FC (9-0-3) to play the reminder of the contest with only 10 players.

“We’ve developed the character of fighting and grinding results out,” San Antonio FC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo said. “It’s a great mentality to have and it doesn’t come easily. It comes from the top, all the way to the bottom, but it’s nice to be the team that has that character to fight and have the pride of not giving up goals.”

Swope Park (4-4-1) almost capitalized with a couple of late scoring threats, the best coming in the 89th minute when reserve midfielder Louis Bennett gathered a ball and unleashed a shot from the top of the penalty area.

San Antonio FC defender Stephen McCarthy headed the ball away, denying what appeared like a potential game-winning goal.

The play embodied a do-whatever-it-takes approach for San Antonio FC, which entered Saturday’s game riding the best start to a season in USL history. The team was also tied with the 1996 L.A. Galaxy squad for the best start by a professional soccer team in American history, which includes Major League Soccer (MLS), North American Soccer League (NASL) and National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

San Antonio FC and the L.A. Galaxy team from 21 years ago each earned 29 points in their first 11 matches.

Bennett’s shot was one of a few scoring chances during a game in which defenses dominated. The teams combined for three shots on goal.

With Restrepo leading the way, San Antonio FC recorded its sixth straight shutout, ninth on the year and second in a week against Swope Park. San Antonio FC won 1-0 in Kansas City on May 26.

“It’s tough to play the same team twice in a week,” San Antonio FC coach Darren Powell said. “But to get four points in the two-game series was good. I’m very proud to get another clean sheet, and now we get a point and keep moving forward.”

tthomas@express-news.net

Twitter: @en_terrence