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San Antonio Scorpions NASL Debut A Victory with 13,000 in Stands; On the Field a Big Disappointment

2012 April 16
by Andrew Arellano

The Puerto Rico Islanders defeated the San Antonio Scorpions 4-0 in inaugural NASL home match.

Scorpions coach Tim Hankinson applauds the crowd of over 13,000 before the kickoff of the Scorpions' first-ever NASL match.

In front of a sold out stadium of 13,000 plus hometown fans, the SA Scorpions FC faced off against the Puerto Rico Islanders in their first home opener in franchise history.  The festivities included tailgating parties starting at least three hours prior to kick-off with the three official supporters groups of the Scorpions leading the march toward Heroes Stadium just before kick-off.

It was an unbelievable crowd on an unbelievable day for soccer in America, and the fans were ready to see their highly anticipated hometown product.

Soon after the game kicked off it was clear that the veteran Islanders had their season in mind and had every intention to continue what they started in the previous campaign.  The moment for the home team quickly turned against them as they let in the first goal of the night after only seven minutes of play.

David Foley was released from the midfield and beat the oncoming pressure as the defense collapsed on Foley while he slotted a nifty little pass across the six to an oncoming Jonathan Fana, who finished neatly from point blank range.

As the Islanders continued to press, the home team looked to counter attack in an effort to cool off the hot visiting team and managed to put together some decent passes.  About four minutes later, Hans Denissen was fouled in the Islanders box and the Scorpions were thrown a lifeline.

However, what momentum could have been gained with an early goal in front of the sold-out crowd was squandered as the shooter powered the ball into the top bar leaving the Islanders in the lead.

Meanwhile, Foley, having early success on the left side, was rewarded from an individual piece of work leading to an unassisted goal just before the twenty-minute mark.

In the second half, it was more of the same including a second missed penalty, as the Scorpions never looked to be threatening and two more goals from Nicholas Addlery (55’) and another from Jonathan Fana (72’) saw the Islanders return home victorious 4-0.

It was clear from the beginning that the Islanders were not content to allow San Antonio a minute to organize defensively and looked to capitalize on shaky play from the left side and through the center of the park.

The offensive pieces for San Antonio never got into a rhythm and overall lacked creativity in the final third. Very few adjustments were made as the game progressed and weaknesses throughout the Scorpions squad were continually exploited.

The score wasn’t totally representative of the performance from the Scorpions. The Islanders’ keeper Richard Martin was responsible for seven saves throughout the match as the Scorpions had twelve shots in comparison to six shots from the visitors. Unfortunately, four of the six shots for the Islanders ended up in the Scorpions’ net.

“The boys were fantastic this evening. Every single player did their part and the support from the Islanders fans here and in Puerto Rico has been awesome. Preparation for next match against FC Edmonton starts now,” said Islanders head coach Adrian Whitbread.

San Antonio coach Tim Hankinson was evidently so upset with the result that he did not allow media to conduct interviews after the match. Please see comment by editor (bq) below dated 4-17

While the Scorpions organization won big off the pitch, their performance on the pitch may come under extra scrutiny if the results continue to be as lopsided as the score was for this match.

The Scorpions will look to regroup as they have a short week when they host the Fort Lauderdale Strikers next Saturday, April 21. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Islanders have a quick turnaround as the face winless FC Edmonton on Wednesday evening at Bayamon Soccer Complex.

21 Responses
  1. Soccer Boy permalink
    April 16, 2012

    I was able to watch most of the match. The crowd looked huge and it was great to see a ton of excitement. I would give the production crew good marks on the web cast, however, it was annoying that they kept switching to the pitch side camera during the course of a play. However, their overhead camera was really high up, which gives the viewer a good idea of what is going on–when the camera panned out to show more field vs. the person with the ball.

    The interview at half with Commissioner Downs was excellent. It is great to see him getting out to more matches and being a likeable face for the new league. The commentator asked some great questions!

    My only regret is that I will not be able to go to SA and watch the Stars play the Scorpions. Yeah, the football lines are unappealing, but as they reminded the viewers, construction is going on across the street and next year matches will be played in a soccer specific stadium.

    Come on you Scorpions–beat everyone but my Stars!

  2. Yankiboy permalink
    April 16, 2012

    First things first:

    Mad props to Evan Mitz, Michael Hitchcock and company for the way that they have successfully launched the Scorpions.

    Even bigger props to the Crocketeers for the amazing job that they have done to organize and get behind the club. Also gotta give props to the Bexar Casualsand Alamo City Ultras.

    Yesterday was a huge sucess in the stands and in the parking lots. The result was disappointing for the home team. The on the field talent is there. They just need more time to gel.

    Personally, I wouldn’t trade Addlery, Faña or Foley for any other set of three attacking players playing together in the league; Scorpions fans just got a rude introduction to the three.

  3. Bart permalink
    April 16, 2012

    13,000 fans! Even if they gave away 50% of those tickets, that would still be a fantastic crowd for an opening event. If Mr. Hartman keeps these numbers up, he certainly will be the only team with NASL that will indeed do what he promised, and that is to provide funding for Morgans Wonderland the very first year of the team’s existence.

    Let’s hope that this game does not diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd in San Antonio.

  4. Yankiboy permalink
    April 16, 2012

    Yeah. Let’s hope that some of the fans who went to see the team play last night don’t have unrealistic expectations and that they return.

  5. Gerry Wittmann permalink
    April 16, 2012

    Not dismissing your observations by any means, Andrew, but the San Antonio players had to be somewhat distracted by the hoopla and large crowd of the Scorpions first ever home game. I know the players are professionals but still it’s difficult to not get caught up in the moment. And they were playing the Islanders…a team with a real killer instinct.

  6. Fotbalist permalink
    April 16, 2012

    The loss in the first game on home soil is sad, but this does not take away from the true accomplishment of the organization as a whole. The coaches refusal to speak with media was unwise. I’m starting to think that San Antonio will become a long term team with strong presence.

  7. April 16, 2012

    While I don’t believe the NASL has any rules like many leagues around the world that require teams to make players accessible to the media (which I actually think would be a good idea for NASL to adapt) it was a highly inadvisable move on Hankisons’ part. This is not college, it’s pro soccer and in the US, it’s tough enough getting media attention for the US National Team and MLS.

    You take a step down to D2 and it is at times impossible to get media attention as was brought up in a comment just yesterday on the last Tampa post. Stephen left a comment which I verified, that the Tampa Bay Times had not published a single article about the Rowdies, either in the paper or online between January 10 until April 6. This is, I’m afraid, more par for the course than the media attention that Scorpions have been used to getting for having a new team and the stadium build as well as the controversy of the NASL team coming vs. the possible USL PRO team that SS&E had talked about.

    Turning the media away from post game interviews, no matter how bad the performance, no matter how upset Hankinson was with his team, and he had plenty of reason to be upset with them, is to me unacceptable.

  8. April 16, 2012

    @yankiboy – totally agree, the scorpions organization were putting in some long hours before this very special match, and I particularly appreciated the amenities for the fans and the pregame activities

    @Gerry – agree, you could tell they were obviously distracted from the start. It was unfortunate because they are a much better team than the score line indicated but the Islanders are a quality outfit, so it was always going to be a tall order. I’m sure they will rebound and look forward to a great inaugural season

  9. Yankiboy permalink
    April 16, 2012

    Brian, I have to agree with you regarding the report that Hankinson refused to let the players speak with the media after the match ended.

    I had planned on discussing the matter on the IMS NASL Soccer podcast (shameless plug).

    In other markets, teams are begging for media coverage. If Hankinson wouldn’t make his players available to the media after the loss, I’d like to know more about that decision as to better understand what–from the outside looking it–appears to be an terrible precedent to make…

  10. Yankiboy permalink
    April 16, 2012

    @Andrew: The Scoprpions have quality coach that has chosen quality players. I am sure that they will play better. I am troubled to read the report about the players not being allowed to speak with the press after the match. It was a big night but it was just ONE night. I just hope that fans and the media don’t overreact about the result. Now, if the coach is allegedly overreacting, that doesn’t set a good tone on a night that was wildly successfull in several other facets.

  11. Orange Trooper permalink
    April 16, 2012


    I agree with you guys… the showing on a new team home opener was as good as it could get.

    That and the staff, the girls… honestly hats off!

    Not that it would be fair to have all that and 3pts at the end of day : )

    think for the Scorpions with such a fan base being a new club… the only way to go is up.


  12. Bart permalink
    April 16, 2012


    What is going on with SS&E and their USL Pro team? Any word on if and when this is going to occur?

    I don’t know if this will take the steam out of the Hartman group, but if they can do 13,000 regularly, it seems as if 2 teams in different divisions can easily be in San Antonio at the same time.

  13. Mike permalink
    April 17, 2012

    An impressive crowd to be sure for their opener. A shame they couldn’t have gotten a better result, or at least a more competitive match.

    Not allowing media contact after the match? Strike one Tim! Being upset with your players is fine, but pulling a move like that after the inaugural game of the franchise is narrow-minded and downright foolish. You need to make media people your friends, not blow them off. Maintaining the fan base numbers after the novelty wears off will be enough of a challenge without giving yourself a handicap of a shot in the foot.

  14. Neil Morris permalink
    April 17, 2012


    You know what they say…you only get one chance to make a first impression. I don’t want to emphasize the mildly negative in light of the great crowd and support for the team, which I really hope continues. But, as you said, not allowing players to talk to the media, especially after the first home game in franchise history, is a bad move. It’s particularly bad when so many fans and, presumably, media showed up at the club’s urging, and in a league so desirous of whatever press coverage they can get.

    In Carolina, all post-game interviews (coach and players) take place on the field immediately after the game (unless it’s raining). Sometimes the players will take 5-15 mins. to compose themselves, esp. after of a disappointing performance or loss. But, they almost always talk to us. I suspect the set-up is the same at most D2 and D3 sites.

    Ultimately, it’s the job of management (front office) to make sure the players are available. Yes, the coach has tremendous sway. But if this sort of thing happens again, the front office would need to step in and keep him from hurting the club.

  15. April 17, 2012

    First I want to apologize to Andrew who wrote this report. I was the one who actually interjected that portion of the story as I was doing some editing to his piece. I wanted to place the Whitbread quote and since I knew Andrew had been told they would not be doing interviews was frustrated and thought that was a very poor decision and left us without any Scorpions quotes. I in no manner meant to make life harder for Andrew as he has to deal with the Scropions staff on a more frequent basis than I do.

    Some clarity was given on this issue today and I think at this point we can just chalk it up to first game snafu’s. This is what I have learned.

    Coach Hankinson did not state he would not allow players to do interviews. Well in a sense he did and in a sense he did not. This should really go down as a bad mix up by the SAS PR staff.

    Before the game the PR staff set up a procedure for post-game interviews which was a FIFA-style “mixed zone” where players would be interviewed by the press. Many reporters went there and waited patiently for the players to come to them, but other reporters rushed the field in defiance of the instructions and spent aprox. 15-20 interviewing Hankinson and many of the players. When that died down the PR staff attempted to bring the players to the mixed zone. It was at that point Hankinson said that the players had done more than enough interviews and he now needed to talk with them in the locker room.

    The reporters who had waited patiently were turned away but told that Michale Hitchcock and Gordan Hartman were available. I am guessing coach Hankinson didn’t even understand what had happened at that point.

    Overall it was a bad mistake to have happen at your opening game, but my pining this on the coach was not accurate even though I aassume everyone will understand why I made that assumption.

    As my friend Neal Morris who reports down in Cary on the RailHawks well understands and just wrote in the above comment, this is D2 soccer in the US. The set up pretty much nation wide is interviews on the field after the game. The reality is, there just isn’t that much media coverage that it’s a problem. It’s how they do thing up here in MN as well.

    One can always go into the tunnel or to the locker room hallway and request an interview with a player after they come off the field. The trade off is (and this can be good or bad depending) some of the adrenalin is worn down then and the quotes are not always quite as fresh. It’s also a longer wait. I know often times here if we actually get coverage by one of the papers they hit the field quickly, get a couple of quick quotes and rush back to the press box to try to get their story out by deadline. If I hit the locker room, which I sometimes have to do to get a visiting coaches quotes, it means about a 20 minute wait.

    While I think it’s good to have a formal interview area I personally think the media should be allowed to go on the field after games before the players sign autographs or visit with the fans or head to the locker rooms.

    Hope this adds clarity to what happened in SA this past Sunday evening. I was told they plan on resolving the issue for this weekends game.

  16. Yankiboy permalink
    April 18, 2012

    Brian, thanks for the clarity; It was an honest mistake.

    I take solace in knowing that you are actually human and not just some sort of supercomputer who is programmed to provide coverage to a leagues that most people in the country who follow the sport would spend five seconds thinking about.-not even during US Open Cup play.

    Maximum respect, Playah!

  17. Bart permalink
    April 18, 2012

    @ Yankiboy

    Wait a minute, BQ is not a super computer? I thought he was a digital machine that had the perfect algorithm program based upon input from the bloggers.

    Now that you have revealed he is flesh and bones, it seems to be kind of a downer…..

  18. April 18, 2012

    @Bart, I’m a total downer. Best not get to close.

  19. April 19, 2012

    Pablo Campos is useless and no longer deserves Division II employment. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Missing an easy header my grandmother could have made, besides the two flubbed penalties… Savage really.

  20. Yankiboy permalink
    April 20, 2012

    DB: Campos had a very bad game. It happens. Good player, bad night.

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