The San Antonio Scorpions finished the Spring season in 3rd place following a five game win streak. Only one goal prevented the Scorpions from winning the Spring season and hosting the Soccer Bowl Championship game. That means almost nothing as we head into the second half of the 2013 season with every teams’ record being reset to zero points. Now San Antonio will be looking to win the Fall season to earn the right to travel to Atlanta in November to become the 2013 NASL Champions.
Scorpions President and GM Howard Cornfield said the organization is “gunning for a berth in the 2013 NASL Soccer Bowl and nothing less.” Well, the Fall season will be more difficult than the Spring. Gone are the two bye weeks each team had allowing time to rest and strategize. That’s because newcomer New York Cosmos will be rejoining the league after an almost three decade absence. Several teams have also added new players (including the Scorpions) during the summer break that will test everybody’s ability to adapt. Several questions remain heading into the Fall season: Will the Scorpions be able to continue their win streak? Will new signings from Spain and Poland be able to adjust to NASL gameplay better than previous European signings did? Will Spring scoring sensation Hans Denissen continue finding the back of the net? And last (but not least), did the summer break help or hurt the Scorpions and other teams heading into the Fall?
Before any questions are to be answered, games must be played. San Antonio starts the Fall season in Toyota Field the same way they started in the Spring, with a game against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. This time, the Scorpions will be looking for a different result. Tampa Bay came into Toyota Field for the home opener and won 2-0. The team wants revenge with even Denissen saying “This is an important game to get revenge. They stole our home opener and ruined the party. We have to get revenge on Saturday.” That’s not the only reason the team is looking for revenge though and the phrase ‘ruined the party’ sticks out for a reason.
“We remember on their blackboard in the dressing room, seeing ‘Let’s ruin the party’; and they did. For us that’s big motivation.” – Coach Tim Hankinson
That’s a harsh thing to see written on a blackboard, knowing the other team did exactly what they came to do. The Scorpions were able to get a small bit of satisfaction travelling to Tampa later in the Spring season and winning 2-1 scoring a late goal but this will be the game that truly provides a healing salve with a victory.
Two stats really stand out for the Scorpions that will need to at least continue their trend going into the Fall season. The defense did well with Jeff Jennings, Greg Janicki, and Luka Vucko in the center of the action making big tackles and winning the ball out of the air. They led the defense into a tie for second on best goals against for the league (it helps that Vuolo is second in the league with a 0.69 goals against average as well) and recorded three clean sheets. Jennings knows the importance of starting the Fall season well. He admits that the slow start to the Spring season kept the team from hosting the Soccer Bowl and will be working for good results from these upcoming games. On the other side of the coin, striker Hans Denissen was at the right place to score enough goals to be tied for the league lead and has the advantage in the race for the 2013 Golden Boot. Additional help up top could see Denissen having even more looks at his target.
Additional help has come in the form of Spanish striker Borja Rubiato and Polish striker Tomasz Zahorski. Coach Hankinson will have options for both speed and height up top with these two newcomers. It will be needed with Bayona (forward) and Martin (defender/forward) both questionable for tonight’s game.
Remember those questions up top? San Antonio may have all the answers after this first game of the Fall season. We may also be left scratching our heads wondering if the Fall season will be another uphill struggle. The Scorpions don’t want another party ruined in Toyota Field by the Rowdies and will be working hard to start the season right. The race for the Fall title starts tonight. Scorpions 2 – 1 Tampa Bay Rowdies.