That’s the final score of the soccer gane we watched yesterday at the Heroes Stadium in San Antonio between the San Antonio Scorpions and the Tampa Bay Rowdies: quite a different game and quite a different team from that we saw two weeks ago, in the Scorpions’ game against the Puerto Rico Islanders, when the Scorpions lost 2:1.
Not that there was nothing to criticise in yesterday’s game [still too many bad passes, ball-handling can still be improved, anticipating where the player receiving a pass will be, too, to name but a few], but maybe I was too harsh in my criticism in my recent posting, since the team as whole looked much better – and that’s not only because of a never-endangered 4:0 win – than two weeks ago. After a short phase [less than 10 minutes] at the beginning, when it looked as if the Rowdies, with their forechecking and pressing still in the Scorpions’ half of the playing-field, could at least hold their own, the latter got more and more into the game. That, to my mind, could not in the least be attributed to the efforts of Dutchman Hans Denissen, who already two weeks ago was responsible for a definite improvement of the Scorpions’ game after he was sent in at some time during the second half, and who – this time – played from the beginning. On the Scorpions’ roster Denissen is listed as a forward, and that was his main role in yesterday’s game, but in the course of the game he took over the role of a midfielder, too, who was able to do some creative work as to opening the plays with well-timed and exact passes, and later, towards the end mainly, you could also see him bolsterung the defense, all the while never neglecting his main role as a forward.
As said above, after less than 10 minutes the Scorpions took over the initiative and, with two lightning strikes after clever through-passes deep into the Rowdies’ half, scored twice [8th and 17th minute] and got their well-deserved 2:0 lead. A penalty, caused by the Rowdies’ goalkeeper Jeff Antinella, who, somewhat unluckily, I must admit, toppled the Scorpions’ Pablo Santos in the penalty are, lead to a 3:0 lead in the 28th minute. As it turned out, Tampa Bay never recovered from this quick three-goal lead by the Scorpions, even if San Antonio missed the opportunity to add another goal when they – rather deplorably – failed to score with another penalty.
At the beginning of the second halfthe Tampa Bay Rowdies, for about 15 minutes, certainly put on an additional effort and tried to exert more pressure, but could not score, especially since the Scorpions’ defense was well positioned and secure in their actions and since San Antonio kept pressuring the Rowdies by frequent dangerous counterattacks. After this phase of pressure the game became more balanced again, with a slight advantage to the Scorpions, who were not at all content with their 3-goal lead, but kept trying to improve the result and constantly played at a high speed, an effort that paid off in the 1st minute of injury time, when they scored once more for their final 4:0 win.
Let me add that the “Rowdies” lived up to their name as they saw the yellow card 4 times after absolutely unnecessary fouls. In the second half there was an incident which, to my mind, would even have merited the red card. That happened when the game had been interrupted to prepare a free kick by the Scorpions and a Tampa player – far away from the ball – moved down a Scoropion with either a body check or a kick [I couldn't see exactly what happened]. Unfortunately the referee was unable to see this directly as he was – naturally – concentrated on the ball and the players getting ready for the free kick and this happened in his back. This incident lead to an extended discussion among the referees and finally ended with a penalty card for the Tampa player plus one for the San Antonio golakeepr, who must have backtalked to the referee. As I said, to my mind that foul would certainly have merited sending the Tampa guy off the field, but maybe the ref was lenient because he had not watched th foul himself. This was a situation when the referee was in danger of losing control of the game, with many players of both team congregation, shouting and trying to attack each other. Some of them had to be restrained by their more cool-headed team mates or helpers. Luckily, the hot-heads cooled down very quickly again, once the game had been resumed, and we were able to enjoy an exiting game again.
With this win the San Antonio Scorpions are at the top of the NASL tables with such a lead that this spot it is not likely to be taken away from them again. They only need to win one game of the last 5 in this regular season for that. Quite a success for a team that was only formed less than two years ago and is in their first season in the NASL.
Addendum: What I don’t understand about the system here is that, after the regular season, there still are playoffs. If I understand it correctly, the two team at the top of the league tables after the regular season are automatically qualified for the semi finals of the playoffs, whereas the other two spots will be fought for by the next for teams. That, to my mind, could mean that finally the 6th seed of the regular season could still win the playoffs. Strange! Not that I automatically deem everything from Germany better, but in this case I really prefer the “Bundesliga” system: whoever wins the regular season is the champion. And I think it might also improve things here in the US for soccer if the leading two teams – or just the one leading team – of the second division would automatically go up to play in the first division, while the last team in the first would automatically be demoted to the 2nd. That would certainly add some more incentive and excitement. But here, if I understand things correctly, you will be “invited” to play in the first division. What, to my mind, also hinders soccer to become more popular here is the fact that there are to rivalling leagues, MLS/NASL on the one hand, and USL on the other. That fragments the strength.
- PHOTOS: Scorpions clinch playoff spot with shutout over Tampa Bay (kens5.com)
- Soccer (pitstexasexpatblog.wordpress.com)
- Scorpions’ quick strike reawakens MLS dream (mysanantonio.com)
- Scorpions win on penalty kick (mysanantonio.com)
- Scorpions seek payback at Puerto Rico (mysanantonio.com)
- NDR: Interesting read in New York Times on San Antonio Scorpions (bigsoccer.com)
- Campos scores two, destroying Silverbacks again (mysanantonio.com)
- Ties that bind: Scorpions, Strikers meeting for third time this season (kens5.com)
- Scorpions Pad NASL Edge (mysanantonio.com)
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