A Mixed Year For San Antonio Soccer

From new stadiums to collegiate success, San Antonio had quite the year of soccer
by Chris Hockman   |   Friday, January 03, 2014

Defending The Fort - column on San Antonio Scorpions (SASFC) & the San Antonio soccer scene.

With the end of one year, it's time to look back and reflect on the year that was and look at the highlights, or even lowlights of the year in 2013.

#5: Poor Performance of the Scorpions

After a disappointing end to a spectacular 2012 season, big things were expected from the 2013 Scorpions, and they headed in to the first split season of the NASL as one of the top title contenders.

Unfortunately, a lack of preseason preparation caught the Scorpions out and they dug a hole so deep that even a late incredible run of results couldn't recover the ailing side.

The Fall season was even worse with the Scorpions starting poorly, resulting in the sacking of then-manager Tim Hankinson. But this time they never got out of the hole. Despite that, new manager Alen Marcina will have the chance to turn it around next year, with minimal expectations.

#4: The Return of US Soccer

With the Scorpions attendances generating headlines, US Soccer decided to return to San Antonio in 2013, bringing the always popular US Women's National Team.

It was a big match as it pitted 2 of the top 10 teams in the world against each other and also saw new USWNT coach, Tom Sermanni face his former chargers, Australia, for the first time.

The match was entertaining, with Australia playing their typical attacking style, while the USWNT was absolutely clinical, resulting in a 4-0 USA win.

This is likely only the beginning for San Antonio, with Mexico kicking off their 2014 US Tour with a stop at the Alamodome and the USMNT rumoured to be coming back.

#3: Trinity's run to the National Championship game

It may not have ended the way San Antonio's soccer fans wanted, but Trinity's women's team put a bright spark in what was a tough year for most San Antonio-based teams.

The Tigers put on a phenomenal run, being the only side in NCAA Division III to put an undefeated run in to the Final Four, where they made light work of their semi-final, making the national championship for the first time.

Unfortunately, they lost in a memorable championship game, but they will find themselves right in with a shot in 2014 with just 3 seniors leaving the side.

#2: Austin Aztex win PDL Championship

There was plenty of healing in Austin on one magic night, as the revived Aztex claimed the club's maiden title.

Coming in to the end of their second season, results fell Austin’s way and they claimed their conference regular season title before winning through the Southern Region.

With the bids tabled, Austin was awarded the PDL Final Four and it was a memorable weekend as Austin impressed all and won the tournament.

The match itself was full of excitement. In what USL Commissioner Tim Holt called "the craziest 10 minutes in PDL history," the fans saw 2 goals and 1 red card, going from dismay to ecstasy as the Aztex went on to defeat Thunder Bay Chill and claim their first ever title.

#1: Stadiums, stadiums, stadiums

2013 was the year of stadiums in San Antonio with 3 new soccer specific venues being installed in the city.

St. Mary's new stadium was by far the one that had the biggest impact on the team itself, not only giving the school their own stadium for the first time but also flood lights, allowing the Rattlers to play their first ever match after dark.

UTSA also got a stadium for their soccer team as they made the move to Conference USA, with that move the school now opens up being able to host tournaments as well as potentially set up a USMNT in the future.

But by far the story stealing the headlines was Toyota Field, the San Antonio Scorpions new 8,000-seat stadium that lead the league.

The Scorpions moved from turf to natural grass with the move, and they set new standards that will be followed by the rest of the league.

The move showed just how far the sport has come in the USA with now even lower division teams building their own stadium, and a privately funded one at that which Scorpions owner, Gordon Hartman, should be applauded for. 

Chris HOCKMAN

Nationality:
Australia
College:
Univ W. Sydney & Youthworks Coll.
Club Domestic:
Houston Dynamo, San Antonio Scorpions, Austin Aztex
Club Foreign:
Central Coast Mariners
Originally from Australia found football (or soccer as you Yanks call it) a great connection in a new country. Freelance writer since 2005 covering Australian and US Soccer. Based out of San Antonio but can regularly be seen in Houston, Austin and Dallas.
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