Why San Antonio isn’t USMNT Material

A look at why San Antonio is overlooked for USMNT games
by Chris Hockman   |   Friday, February 08, 2013

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

On Jan. 29, the United States Men's National Team bored the heck out of Houston as it could only manage a scoreless draw against Canada.

The thing that stood out the most was how disappointed the crowd of 11,700 was for a city that hasn’t had a national team game in a number of years. It makes one wonder what San Antonio lacks.

Sure there are plenty of excuses as to why only 11,700 showed up – it was a Tuesday and 8 p.m. is a late kick-off when you have work the next day (I drove from San Antonio and didn’t get home until 2:30 a.m.). And, well, calling the lineup a B-team may be on the generous side.

Despite all those excuses, it still seems like there’d have been more in San Antonio, but there’s got to be reasons why the USMNT won’t play here.

San Antonio’s biggest weakness is the lack of an appropriate stadium. Yes, Toyota Field will be stunning when it’s complete, but it only holds 8,000. As disappointing as the 11,000 in Houston was, that’s still 3,000 more than a sellout at the new place.

But what about the Alamodome? The Alamodome is a fine venue, but with 72,000 seats it is much too big for a match of this level. And having a turf field, while not a put off for USSF, is far from ideal and FIFA frowns upon it for serious internationals (i.e. not a friendly).

San Antonio also lacks a real soccer infrastructure to support such a game. Who pays for these games? Who puts in the bid and who runs the event?

While on the surface it seems like the USSF does all of that, it’s actually mostly farmed out to local organizations and it seems unlikely to happen in San Antonio’s case.

Such an event would seem a little much for San Antonio Sports, which does an amazing job with the NCAA Division III Championships. It would be unlikely for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs to do anything while the Scorpions are the team in the city. The Scorpions, for their part, would probably love to do it, but would probably want to use Toyota Field to do anything which rules them out.

Finally there’s the issue of regional competition. It’s pretty clear that the USSF has split the United States in to regions and Texas could well be a region unto itself.

That, unfortunately, puts San Antonio on the outs with Houston and Dallas, as both have more appropriate facilities and a better organizational arrangement.

On the bright side, things can change. San Antonio continues to grow and could well see a better stadium situation. But for now, San Antonio fans will have to be content travelling three hours to see the national team play.

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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