Scorpions Recruiting in Eastern Europe

One region in particular has dominated the San Antonio Scorpions recruitment drive in 2013, Eastern Europe. But why?
by Chris Hockman   |   Friday, March 01, 2013

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

Two weeks ago this column spoke of San Antonio’s recruitment and a look at what they didn’t have in Sean Arters. But what has the recruitment drive for 2013 uncovered?

One thing is clear, the Scorpions are looking to Eastern Europe.

There are several questions with this. Firstly, why would you look in Eastern Europe? It seems an odd region of the world to target for a second division US team.

It’s not that there’s not talent in Eastern Europe, there’s a wealth of it. It’s just a surprise for the Scorpions to look there. But perhaps that’s why they’re going there, not many people can see games from those leagues.

What little footage does exist of the players the Scorpions have signed is often not of the highest quality and so it makes scouting hard, although that advantage will vanish very quickly.

Occam’s razor supposes that the simplest solution is the correct solution, and while this isn’t always true, in this case it very well could be. Why look in Eastern Europe? Because no one else is.

Eastern Europe has a very developed academy system, and a number of the players signed have been playing through that system since they were very young. This enables some incredible development.

Further to that it’s a different style of the game, and perhaps that is what manager Tim Hankinson is seeking – to bring about different styles to try and find some sort of hybrid using the strengths of each individual bringing their own perspective.

The other side of the coin is, why would someone leave Eastern Europe to come to the USA’s second division?

The fact is that life in the Eastern European leagues is tough, even for nationals, but especially for foreigners.

Australian Michael Baird left the A-League to go play in Romania and came back with stories of being literally and figuratively shut out of his team, being told they wouldn’t play him nor would they sell him, while forcing him to train in the snow with the youth team.

That is a tough environment for any player, regardless of your background, and so it’s understandable that players may want a way out.

The other lure is the ever present reason for why footballers move: money.

While salaries in Eastern Europe can be very high – as Galatasaray’s recent spending attests – that sort of money is only for the best of the best and run of the mill squad players are often on very poor money.

Because of that, the opportunity to earn more money and maybe even be a bigger part of a team is a huge pull factor for these young players from Eastern Europe.

In addition to all of that, there is also lifestyle. San Antonio is an interesting city – a city that I, as a foreigner, have fallen in love with, and so why not come and experience it?

It’s a city without cold days like in most of Eastern Europe and while it does get hot it lacks the humidity of Houston or the outrageous temperatures of Arizona.

These players will be in for a very different experience when preseason training begins on Friday. But they are sure to add something different to the Scorpions, who could not just be sporting a different starting XI, but a completely different style in 2013.

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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