The View from South Texas -- San Antonio Scorpions v. Ottawa Fury

Discussion in 'Prem talk, Those Other Leagues, and International' started by HatterDon, Oct 6, 2014.

  1. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Location:
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    Lowering My Expectations

    So, the thing about the NASL is that the majority of their matches are on Saturday evenings. The thing about Saturday evenings is that, even on a very slow month, I have gigs on two of them. And so it is that I finally made it out to beautiful Toyota Field to watch the Scorps [who should really have been named Alamo City FC] play some Canadian side. For those of us who don't know, the NASL is around USL 1.5 level – that is probably English League 2 level. I don't expect Premier League or even MLS quality, so I can enjoy the game … depending, of course.

    It was a lovely night for football. The pitch was well groomed – although I think it should have been watered before the match. Of course, this being the USA, the pitch belonged to everyone and his second cousin before kickoff. There'll be a nasty email to Scorpions Leadership about having the colors brought on to the pitch a good 15 minutes before kickoff. While HatterMom and myself stood at attention during this period – proper respect for uncovered colors escorted by an honor guard – the rest of the crowd was treated to team introductions, tee-shirt shoots, promos for future matches, a collage of team-sport movie extracts and, naturally, the inevitable song about the seedy urban location where young men can go for anonymous gay sex.

    But I digress, it was a lovely night for football. San Antonio is in second place for the second half of the season and in the overall standings as well. With the season winding down, the possibility of getting the best overall record is over, and the club has not yet qualified for the playoffs, but in the five matches remaining as I type this, it seems pretty likely that they will. Ottawa is a midtable club that I know little about. For that matter, I know very little about San Antonio. In the team's first season, there was free Internet television for all away matches. I often enjoyed being one of 118 people watching. With this overwhelming appetite for NASL football, of course, free TV no longer exists. Sigh.

    But, I continue to digress. It WAS a lovely night for football. I recognized two names on the San Antonio squad. Striker Gino Gentile is on rehab loan from MLS, and our goalkeeper is Josh Saunders. Josh is on a season-long loan from MLS-to-be NYC FC. He was a class above everyone on the pitch. He doesn't look all that different than he looked when he was picking up a medal or two with the LA Galaxy.

    At the kickoff, I was surprised at the lack of aggession on the part of the Scorpions. While they easily handled any attack from the Fury, they showed little interest in bringing the ball upfield. It was a good five minutes before any San Antonio player touched the ball in the Ottawa half. After about ten mnutes, I realized that San Antonio's game plan is simple: counter punch and do it quickly. On one of the first forays into enemy territory, a very talented Colombian midfielder named Rafael Castillo won a free kick rather cheaply. Then, from a good 35 yards out, he curled a delivery that evaded two attackers and four defenders and bounced twice before trickling into the net. It was the eleventh minute, and San Antonio was ahead 1-0.

    For the rest of the match, San Antonio fed off loose passing in the Fury midfield. A quick interception was followed by either a wayward pass upfield, or a speedy, one-man counter attack. In every case, the resultant shot was either blocked or errant. For all the aggression and excitement, there were very few corners won, or Ottawa saves. The Fury continued to forge sporadic attacks, but the Scorpion back four handled them easily – until it was weakened by substitution. Due to a couple of innocent collisions, there was six minutes of extra time in the second half and, about half way through, there were three hard shots on Saunders' goal. He made very good saves on two of them, and the match ended 1-1.

    A few players caught the eye aside from Castillo and Saunders. Julius James, a Trinidadian fullback was excellent until he was subbed out in a somewhat groggy state. Costa Rican Cesar Elizondo was a joy to watch in midfield, and American winger Walter Restrepo was speedy and dangerous. If you came to the match expecting jaw-dropping skill, you left disappointed. If you came looking forward to 90 minutes of the game you love performed on a top-quality pitch in a first class arena, you left satisfied and well entertained.

    A couple of cool things of note happened that I have to share with you:

    1. Two rows behind us was a lady around 40 years of age. The Memsahib and myself smiled listening to her accurately and fully explain the offside rule … to the gentleman who sat with her.

    2. As the game wound down – before the equalizer – and the PA voice had momentarily stopped telling the crowd to make some noise, about a half-dozen 9 or 10-year-old girls in the section to our left stood and started chanting “Let's Go Scorpions, Let's Go” followed by two foot stamps. They were joined by the adults near them, then by the two of us, and finally by people in both sections. They were earnestly cheering with nobody telling them what to do. It was refreshing to see American fans able to create their own support. When the final whistle blew, this elderly fat guy with out-of-control curly white hair went over to them and said, “You guys are great!” Then I went back to sit with the missus.
    And now for a note of concern. San Antonio is a highly successful team playing in a beautiful new ground – that was half empty. Why? Well, you must understand that the REAL predominant religion in the State of Texas is high-school football. Having said that, it made me wonder out loud if they had the same sort of draw when the MLS officials came to town a month or so ago. Hatter Mom is also concerned about how well an MLS franchise will do here if the league decides to extend their season to match with international dates as suggested by Klinsmann. They would then be competing with the Spurs, and nobody beats that.

    Never mind. We had a great evening. Did I mention that it was a lovely night for football?
     
    #1
  2. nevzter

    nevzter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Location:
    A City by a Bay
    Brilliant. As always.
     
    #2
  3. astroevan

    astroevan Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2013
    Location:
    Colorado
    I always love a good football story. Thanks Don.
     
    #3
  4. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2006
    Location:
    Walnut, CA
    Been way too long without a 'View'
     
    #4
  5. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Location:
    Alamo City, Texas
    Probably helps having something to view.
    We're still not on tv again until Charlton, right? I've given up on checking BeIN Connect.
     
    #5
  6. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Location:
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    I obviously picked the wrong night to attend. Last night, while I was performing my second gig of the day, The Scorps beat Tampa bay 7-0.
     
    #6
  7. nevzter

    nevzter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Location:
    A City by a Bay
    Second gig of the day? The hardest working man in show biz resides in South Texas.
     
    #7
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