The Scorpions were tripped up once again this Fall when they travelled last weekend to face the Soccer Bowl hosts Atlanta Silverbacks. Atlanta were the more physical of the two sides from the start while the ref let the teams play. That plan for the referee backfired quickly as the first of seven yellow cards was issued less than seven minutes into the game. Atlanta opened up the scoring six minutes later off a set piece. As the ball came in, one of the Atlanta players obstructed Hannigan’s view causing him to miss the punch. The Scorpions were unlucky that the ball dropped to Atlanta’s Luna who had an easy tap in for the goal. The Silverbacks scored their second goal after the break during the run of play when an 18 yard strike found it’s way into the back of the net. Denissen got one back for the Scorpions fifteen minutes later (his 11th of the year) leaving 25 minutes to try to tie things up. It was Atlanta, however, that had the best chance as the game came to the close. Hannigan once again tripped up an attacker in the box but Luna skied the resulting penalty kick.
Hans Denissen is second in the race for the golden boot with eleven goals this season. His goal last week was his first since scoring two in the Fall season opener. He’ll be the first to say that the award doesn’t matter to him; he’s only interested in helping the team win. Well Denissen will be looking at his main opponent in the race today when the Scorpions take on the Carolina Railhawks for the first time this Fall. Brian Shriver leads the league with twelve goals this season and has led Carolina to a tie for second in the standings. He didn’t score in last week’s match against the Rowdies that ended in a 2 – 2 draw. The Railhawks scored in the 90th minute to secure the draw and keep their home unbeaten streak alive.
Carolina is winless on the road in 2013 but the Scorpions will have difficulty earning any points from this match. Along with sitting second in the league, the Railhawks are second in each category of goals scored, goals conceded, and goal difference. On the other hand, San Antonio sits last in the league, last in goals against, and last in goal difference. It doesn’t match up well. New defensive signing Logan Emory could be an asset however he didn’t standout in a full 90 minute debut against Atlanta. To be fair, he had been with the Scorpions for only 24 hours before having to fill in for suspended Stephen DeRoux. One thing the Scorpions will have to improve upon is their pressure on the ball. Too many times in Atlanta, players were late getting to the ball wasting energy, causing fouls, or allowing an open shot on goal – creating the opportunity that led to Atlanta’s second goal. Newcomer Emory, returning DeRoux, and captain Vucko will all have to step up their defense to blank the visiting Railhawks.
“Carolina is a good team with a good coach, and we know they will present a stern challenge when they come here on Saturday. We need to make sure we give them something to worry about this weekend.” – Interim Head Coach Alen Marcina
It’s not just the defense that needs to play high pressure behind the ball. Since being named as the interim head coach, Marcina has continually stated his intention to play an attacking, high pressure style on the field. To that effect, the Scorpions lined up in a 4-3-3 formation against Atlanta. Unfortunately, the defense has been lacking in these formations. The midfield is slow to get back on defense and pressure the ball. This leads to the back four having to work harder covering more men or many times overwhelming numbers. It is the midfielder’s defensive responsibility that many times makes the final pass or has the open look at the goal. Hannigan has had many fine saves this Fall but he’s being called to make half a dozen fine saves each game when better pressure on and off the ball would eliminate most of those chances.
The Scorpions stumbled against Atlanta and a similar outcome against Carolina could leave the Fall season in jeopardy. The outlook is poor now but only four points separate the seven teams ahead of us in the table. The Scorpions have the ability to make a run similar to the second half of the Spring schedule that saw them finish third, one point off the leader. San Antonio must rely on each team to continue to steal points from each other. While the present doesn’t look bright, getting back to our winning ways opens up possibilities for the future. Tonight’s game against Carolina starts the second half of the Fall season. The Scorpions must light that flame today. Scorpions 1 – 0 Carolina Railhawks.