Four weeks. Four games. Four losses. It’s been a bitter start to the Fall season mimicking what happened earlier this year when the Scorpions were winless after five weeks of league play. The Scorpions traveled to New York last weekend for their first ever game in team history against the Cosmos. New York had most of the possession throughout the first half and capitalized on that right before halftime. It was unlucky the way the goal unfolded. With the ball on the edge of the 18 yard box, Janicki was able to poke the ball away from the New York attacker. Unfortunately, the ball went straight to another Cosmos player who took the chance to put the ball past Hannigan. The second half fared better for San Antonio until Janicki was shown his second yellow of the game, and just like that, the Scorpions were reduced to ten men. Even after that, the Scorpions had good pressure and were able to create a goal scoring opportunity for Zahorski. His goal with 25 minutes remaining (his 4th in four games) looked enough to earn their first point of the Fall season but playing most of the second half a man down proved too much for the Scorpions and a stoppage time goal sealed San Antonio’s fourth loss of the season.
Today, San Antonio continues its growing rivalry with Minnesota United FC. Mini U lost to league leader Carolina last week 0 – 1. Former Scorpions Pablo Campos and Aaron Pitchkolan both started for Minnesota but were unable to to help upset the home team. Campos had a chance midway through the first half when he intercepted a poor defensive back pass. His attempt was smothered by Carolina’s goalkeeper stifling MNUFC’s best chance of the game. It would come back to haunt Minnesota as they allowed a second half goal to the league leading goal scorer. It was some deft passing that opened up Minnesota’s defense and an inch perfect pass through the six yard box connected for the goal.
The big news this week was the release of Scorpions Head Coach Tim Hankinson. Scorpions President and GM Howard Cornfield cited the team’s recent performance as the reason the change was made at this point of the season. According to Cornfield, the change was considered earlier this Spring after a winless first five games to start the 2013 campaign. The brilliant run to almost finish the season number one in the league staved off the global search for replacement candidates but after five straight losses dating back to the mid-season break, Cornfield believed it could not be postponed any longer.
Assistant Coach Alen Marcina has been named Interim Head Coach for the remainder of this season with the possibility of getting the full position for next year. He’ll have had leadership of the team for three days leading up to today’s Minnesota game and won’t be making any drastic changes yet.
The reality is I have only been in my new position for three days, so to make massive changes to the lineup initially would set the team up to fail instead of succeed. There will be some subtle, tactical changes. The players on our roster know how to play this game. I’m more concerned about motivating and getting these guys to play together and play as a team. That is what is most important for me early on. -Interim Head Coach Alen Marcina
Motivation may be the key to unlocking the talent for the Scorpions and the hope is the players will find it either from new Coach Marcina or from being shown that the front office will do whatever it takes to bring in the wins. Looking at tonight’s game, Marcina claims a “great vibe in the locker room” since the change and the team has “really showed their enthusiasm in training.” “[The game against Minnesota] is going to be a battle, it’s going to be an exciting game for the fans, and I am looking forward to it and I know the team is as well.”
Strangely silent throughout this entire process, Owner Gordon Hartman has yet to make any official comments about the coaching change.
Janicki will be unavailable after his red card in New York last week. Replacing him could be Kevin Harmse who has been used throughout the year in defensive midfield and along the back line. Another possibility could be Pat Phelan who usually plays in a defensive mid position but does have the experience as a defender. Injuries to defenders and previous suspensions have hurt the team all year long with the team having only three shutouts to show for it.
The Scorpions will have to find some deft passing of their own if they are to start scoring on a consistent basis once again. Zahorski will be looking to bring his tally to at least five in five games. Hans Denissen has fallen behind in the race for the Golden Boot award. After scoring two in the opening game of the Fall season, he’s been held scoreless in the past three games. Marcina has promised a larger attacking presence going forward. The fans will be looking for signs of that tonight. Scorpions 1 – 1 Minnesota United FC.