By Jose De Jesus Ortiz / [email protected]
Published Saturday, February 19, 2011 San Antonio Express-News
When the MLS’s Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas came to Whataburger Field for an exhibition match last Saturday, a third group of supporters appeared to combat the Dynamo’s orange and the red of FCD.
Along what normally is the first-base side was a large and rowdy group in tan and dark brown. San Antonio’s Crocketteers may not have an MLS team, but they were out in force with more than 100 in attendance from a membership that tops 500.
Houston’s Texian Army, El Batallón, La Batería and Brickwall easily overwhelmed their counterparts from Dallas. Surprisingly, the Crocketteers’ group also outnumbered folks wearing Dallas colors.
For the Crocketteers, the Dynamo’s 4-0 victory over FC Dallas was more than just an exhibition before a near-sellout crowd of 5,432 at the home of the Corpus Christi Hooks.
“I think it is great sort of exposure and training for the group from a camaraderie standpoint,” said Crocketteers vice president Steve Arters.
As the Dynamo enter their sixth season with hopes of opening their soccer-specific stadium next year in their seventh season, fans in San Antonio are eager for MLS to put a third franchise in Texas.
There are currently a pair of plans to bring minor league franchises to the city. Developer Gordon Hartman has been awarded a North American Soccer League team, which would begin play in 2012. The United Soccer Leagues also is slated to add a San Antonio club in 2012 that would be run by Spurs Sports & Entertainment.
Hundreds if not thousands of fans drove from San Antonio to Houston’s Reliant Stadium last July when Manchester United played the MLS All-Stars. The Crocketteers made their presence known and made it clear that they’d like MLS to eventually put a team in San Antonio.
Expanding to 19 next year with Montreal, MLS is likely to go to 20 teams by 2015. That 20th team seems destined for New York.
“I personally think San Antonio would be a pretty good market for an MLS team, to be honest with you,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti said. “I don’t know if the league’s going to expand that far … Maybe if they got to 22 or 24, San Antonio is probably the only city in the state that has a chance.”
Canetti furthers the argument in San Antonio’s favor by comparing it favorably to San Jose, Calif.; Portland, Ore., and Salt Lake City, three cities where there is only one other major professional sports franchise.