Yesterday we went to San Antonio to see the game [kick-off at 7:30 p.m.] of the San Antonio Scorpions against the Puerto Rico Islanders at the Heroes Stadium. Both clubs are in the NASL [North American Soccer League], which, if I’m informed correctly, is the second division in American soccer, after MLS [Major League Soccer]. What amazes me is the fact that in those leagues the whole Northamerican continent takes part, from Canada in the north to Puerto Rico even in Middle America. It’s enormous distances the teams thus have to travel, and I’m wondering how fans can follow their teams to the away games.
Even if the NASL would correspond to the Second Bundesliga in Germany, I’m of the opinion – and I hope my American friends will not hold that against me – that they are definitely not playing at that level. I believe, after what I witnessed last night, that they would even have their difficulties to compete against German third league teams. But then, soccer is not the main team sports in the US, isn’t it?
Here’s some remarks by this here “armchair coach” – forgive me if I don’t always know the corrects terms :
- handling the ball needs improvement
- passes into the free space, i.e. where the receiving player WILL be, were too rare
- passes quite frequently not precise enough
- players running away from their opponents to be able to better receive the passes too rare, too
- fast, direct play: infrequently
- forechecking & pressing: could be more often
But in spite of this criticism, it was really nice to be there and I enjoyed watching that game live, and experiencing the enthusiasm of the spectators, and it relieved at least a small part of my “withdrawal symptoms” caused by not being able to watch the German Bundesliga here in the US. The tickets, btw, were really cheap, I think, at just $15/person for a seat in the general admission section. I had purchased them a few days ago on the club’s website, only to find out on Saturday that, due to a recent promotional sale, they were now $8 each only. But: after sending an e-mail to the club, I received an explanation, an apology and an offer of two complimentary tickets for the next at-home game of the Scorpions. Now that’s really customer friendly, isn’t it? So we’ll be there on the 19th again to watch the Scorpions play the Bay Rowdies.
As to the stadium: the Heroes Stadium, where the Scorpions play their at-home games, is fairly small [it seats ca. 11,000 people or slightly more] and actually belongs to a school, or rather, the North East ISD. To begin with, a few pictures:
Slightly irritating for me were the markings, representing the stadium’s primary purpose, football, which were really prominent. The markings for soccer, in yellow, were somewhat diffcult to see.
These stands are still empty – nearly – but they’d fill up more later. We, as had many others, had chosen the west side since that was in the shade. No part of the stadium, except for a few boxes at the top of the west side, is covered by a roof, btw, and so we were happy for the shade those boxes provided. That shade plus the little breeze we felt made it fairly pleasant, quite different from what we felt on our way from the parking-lot to the stadium, when it was hot and humid and sweat was pouring “out of every buttonhole” – quite literally, as my shirt showed.
Not too many fans there yet:
It’s about to start: the American flag is being carried in.
What I learned yesterday: the flag is never allowed to tough the ground, not when it’s carried like here, nor when it’s being hoisted on a mast or lowered again.
The teams, led by the referees, march in:
The Scorpions are the ones in white, the Islanders those in light blue. The referees, btw, didn’t have a difficult job as is was quite a fiat game: two yellow cards only, and those not because of really bad fouls.
The players are introduced individually:
The scoreboard, of course, indicates the “real” purpose of this stadium, football.
And then, as usual here in the US at any public or sports event, the national anthems [yes, plural here since Puerto Rico, as a "Commonwealth" has its own] are being played:
Just a remark here: the guitarrist who played the national anthem surely needs some more practice as he had to stop twice to try and remember how to proceed with the tune!
And then the game started. Following are just a few scenes:
Why is it, the “armchair coach” asks, that there are so many “whites” in the middle of the playing field, just in front of the penalty area, while nobody seems to care about the one Islander in the foreground on the right?
Neither the corner kick nor the free kick led to a goal for the Scorpions and in the end, unfoirtunately, they lost 2:1 against the Islanders. After two exchanges at around the 60th minute [two fresh forwards, Dutchman Hans Denissen and US Jeff Cunningham came in] the Scorpions’ game did improve and they scored, but that plus a real last-minute offense during the last 15 minutes of the game did not lead to any goal.
Finally, something really remarkable about the Scorpions: even if they are a professional soccer club, all the profits go to “Soccer for a Cause” and “Morgan’s Wonderland“, a disneyworld-like fun-park for the disabled [all attractions are wheelchair accessible] and the non-disabled alike, which millionaire and philanthropist [and owner of the Scorpions], Gordon Hartmann [his daughter Morgan, after whom this parkhas been named, is herself handicapped], initiated and, with lots of his own money, built. Besides being the owner and founder, Hartmann is one of the big supporters of the Scorpions and they thank him for that by giving their financial support to this great project of his, which, btw, also includes 13 smaller soccer/sports fields as Hartmann is a great believer in helping youngsters and adolescents to become/stay healthy by sports.
Um diesen Eintrag in Deutsch zu lesen, hier klicken.
- Ties that bind: Scorpions, Strikers meeting for third time this season (kens5.com)
- NASL Week 18: A Look Back (soccerbyives.net)
- Goal: Investing in Soccer, but Not for a Profit (nytimes.com)
- Scorpions seek payback at Puerto Rico (mysanantonio.com)
- Scorpions grind through tough schedule (mysanantonio.com)
- Goal: Investing in Soccer, but Not for a Profit (nytimes.com)
- Campos scores two, destroying Silverbacks again (mysanantonio.com)
- Islanders erase gap atop NASL table (mysanantonio.com)