San Antonio Scorpions 2013 Team Preview
The San Antonio Scorpions were founded in 2010 by owner Gordon Hartman who announced the 2012 NASL expansion team at a charity 6 v 6 game between several former Mexican National Team Players and Trinity University. The club was founded as a means to finally bring back professional soccer to San Antonio (see the San Antonio Thunder in the original NASL) and to help fund a park specifically for special needs individuals called “Morgan’s Wonderland.” Soccer For A Cause, as Gordon Hartman calls it, donates all of the profits that the Scorpions bring in to funding the theme park.
The San Antonio expansion team was officially given a name in a press conference on January 10, 2011.
Their first game was a scoreless draw in Atlanta against the Silverbacks. The Scorpions drew their first ever goals and points in their 2nd game in San Antonio as the Scorpions faced the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. NASL Golden Boot winner Pablo Campos netted the first goal in the 41st minute. The Scorpions would get their first point of the season in a controversial goal by Hans Dennisen in stoppage time. The resulting plays would lead to a fight and several red cards.
The San Antonio Scorpions played the 2012 season at Heroes Stadium as Toyota Field was being planned out and put into production. Despite a listed capacity of 11,000, San Antonio drew 13,151 in their home opener as they lost 4-0 to the Puerto Rico Islanders on April 15, 2012.
Name: Toyota Field
Capacity: 8,000 (with eventual goal to build up to 18,000)
Owner: Gordon Hartman; Founded the team in 2010 and created Morgan’s Wonderland, an ultra accessible theme park for special needs individuals. All of the teams profits are put towards supporting this park.
President: Howard Cornfield; Since 2005, Cornfield was the managing director of Beacon Sports Properties International, a finance and consulting company assisting pro sports organizations in China, Australia, Canada and the U.S. He was previously an owner and president of the Quad City Mallards of the United Hockey League (UHL), he guided the franchise through a nine-year period of success unprecedented in professional hockey. The Mallards compiled a 451-175 (.704) record, six consecutive appearances in the league championship series and three UHL championships under his leadership. Cornfield’s sports administration experience includes 10 years in NCAA Division I athletics as associate athletics director at Jacksonville (Fla.) University and Brooklyn (N. Y.) College. He also has international experience with the Australian National Basketball League, Australian National Rugby League and Nepal’s ANFA Cup.
Coaching: Tim Hankinson; A manager that has travelled all over the world learning and perfecting different methods of the beautiful game. In his early years he had a very successful collegiate coaching career. Hankinson coached in the USL from 92-95 before joining the MLS in 96. While in the MLS, he coached the Tampa Bay Mutiny and then Colorado Rapids until 2004. In 2006, he joined the Guatemala Football Federation as the U-17 men’s head coach where he led the side through International “friendlies” and a competitive, but ultimately unsuccessful, 2007 World Cup qualifying campaign. After a year at Ft. Lewis College, he was offered a job in India. His 3rd stint overseas wouldn’t last very long. While at Salgaocar SC, Hankinson was unable to meet, what many deemed unreasonable expectations to dramatically advance the club’s standing in the I-League during the first half of the season, he parted with the club early in 2010. On September 14, 2011, he was announced as the head coach of the new NASL team the San Antonio Scorpions. He led the Scorpions to be the regular season champions of the 2012 NASL season before falling in the playoffs to the Minnesota Stars.
Players Of Note:
Last year’s captain Kevin Harmse has resigned with the Scorpions. He led the defensive line last year and also managed to net a goal. Harmse previously played with the MLS’ LA Galaxy, Toronto FC, Chivas USA, and Vancouver Whitecaps before coming to San Antonio. He also has 9 caps with the Canadian National Team.
Hans Dennisen is a player who will spearhead the attack this year. The Dutch native had 4 goals last season in his first year with the Scorpions.
Walter Ramirez is another Scorpions who surprised many last season. This Honduran is a crowd favorite and loves the fans. Security joked last season for people not to worry because Walter will still be signing autographs and taking pictures with fans even when they shut the stadium lights out. He had 2 goals for San Antonio last season in 25 appearances but he created several big opportunities for Pablo Campos who had a knack for finding the back of the net.
My Player To Watch for the Scorpions in 2013 is Estabon Bayona. Previously of the Laredo Heat, in 2012 Bayona brought life to the Scorpions when he was subbed in. He netted 6 goals and had 5 assists while only playing 1244 minutes all of last season. With Pablo Campos in Minnesota this season, many feel it’s Bayona’s time to shine. Keep an eye on this Columbian in 2013.
In their first year of existence, the average attendance was 9,176. This will be down in 2013 due to the stadium only fitting a capacity of 8,000 opposed to the 11,000 seat capacity at Heroes Stadium.
The San Antonio Scorpions have 4 supporters groups. The two largest are the Crocketteers and Bexar County Casuals. Dragoons 78 and the Alamo City Ultras are the other two smaller supporters groups. What they lack in size, they make up for quality as they stand for the full 90 and sing their hearts out.
The Crocketteers are the oldest and largest supporters group for the Scorpions. They were founded in 2009 (before the Scorpions came into existence. Without the Crocks, the Scorpions would not be here) and boast a membership of over a thousand, making them the largest organized soccer supporters group in the state of Texas. The group is named to honor Davy Crockett who gave his life to defend the Alamo and help Texas win it’s independence. The Crocks are split into two different groups known as Travis 250 and the Brigade. Travis 250 is for the first 250 paid members of the group and are meant to honor the 250 who gave their lives in the “13 days of glory” at the Alamo in 1836.
The Bexar County Casuals are proud to tell the world that they are the most loyal of the supporters with their motto being “Loyalty Above All.” They currently have chapters in Austin, San Antonio, New Braunfels and San Marcos. The Casuals strongly believe in professional football in San Antonio and what it will benefit.
The Alamo City Ultras started in the winter of 2011. The ACU has a mentality of “Quality Not Quantity” that they adapted from the Timbers Army in the MLS. The ACU comes from all backgrounds, lifestyles and subcultures rallied under the term ‘Ultra’, eager to live up to the European supporters. The Ultras go beyond the casual supporter and bring support through tifo, by ways of flares, banners, flags, streamers, drums, horns and organized marches. The ACU does this by adding a South Texas twist.
The Dragoons 78 are the youngest supporters group for the Scorpions. Started in the middle of the season by radio host Randy Bonillas. The Dragoons started supporting while standing with the Bexar County Casuals but have since moved to support alongside the Crocketteers.
The supporters groups will be standing on two different sides of the supporters end, opposite the beer garden, at Toyota Field. Crocketteers on one side and Bexar County Casuals on the other.
In a press conference, Gordon Hartman announced a major partnership with Toyota. The stadium has been given the name Toyota Field. In December of 2012, the Scorpions leaked that Toyota would be on the jerseys. The Scorpions posted a photo online of several options for jerseys the team will wear in 2013. All of the jerseys had “Toyota” written on them. At the first “Meet Your Seat” event at Toyota Field, I spoke with club president, Howard Cornfield and he confirmed that Toyota would be the jersey sponsor for the club.
In 2012, the Scorpions won the NASL Regular Season Championship with 47 points. They had several high profile wins such as an 8-0 victory over the Carolina Railhawks and a 4-0 victory over eventual NASL Champions Tampa Bay Rowdies. Forward Pablo Campos won the Golden Boot (Most Goals) and Golden Ball (MVP). Scorpions starting keeper Daryl Sattler won the Golden Gloves (Best Goals Against Average) last season as well. San Antonio fell to the Minnesota Stars at home after playing down a man after Pablo Campos gave a headbutt to a Stars player in the 25th minute, almost immediately after giving the Scorpions a 1-0 lead. The Stars scored a couple late in the game to give them a ticket to the NASL Finals where they fell to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a thrilling series of games.
The Scorpions have been resigning several key players from last season but have lost several big name players such as Aaron Pitchkolan, Pablo Campos, and Daryl Sattler all to Minnesota. Ryan Cochrane, an NASL Best XI in 2012, also announced his retirement and is currently coaching at Santa Clara University after a very successful career in MLS. The Scorpions have made several new signings this season. Adin Dzafic, Edin Husic, Luka Vucko, and Lyle Martin are the newest pick ups. The Scorpions resigned Hans Dennisen, Walter Ramirez, Estabon Bayona, Kevin Harmse, Greg Janicki, Blake Wagner, and Pat Hannigan (San Antonio’s original starting keeper before an injury that took him out the entire season).
I have high expectations for the Scorpions. San Antonio will be in the hunt for the championship this season and, although it may be hard to fill the shoes of Campos, will be among the league’s best. Look out for Ramirez and Bayona as they’re both set to break out and make a name for themselves on the team.
The future of the Scorpions is bright. Gordon Hartman has hopes of the MLS one day and building Toyota Field is a step in the right direction. The Front Office is being built back up with quality workers and the team is being built with just as much pride.