NASL Season Preview: San Antonio Scorpions

Change has been the keyword for the Scorpions as they look ahead to the 2013 NASL season
by Chris Hockman   |   Friday, March 29, 2013

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

The stadium is nearly completed, and as every little feature is finished, San Antonio's soccer fans get more and more excited for their team's return.

But with only 8 players returning, the Scorpions will be a very different team from the one that won the regular season crown in 2012.

Among those 8 are some crucial players, like captain Kevin Harmse, who decided to stay with the squad despite strong interest from elsewhere. Number 10 Hans Dennisen, who will look to continue his good form, and Estaban Bayona both return after stellar seasons.

The outs from 2012 are significant as well, with golden boot winner Pablo Campos continuing his odyssey through the clubs of North America, and defender Aaron Pitchkolan and goalkeeper Daryl Sattler all moving to Minnesota for 2013.

While fans are despairing over those losses, there are some pertinent facts that may calm Scorpions fans.

Campos may have won the golden boot, but he shouldn’t have. He took 83 shots last season, the fourth most in the league, and scored 21 goals from those shots for a percentage of 25.3%. Not the worst in the league – Simone Baracalello's 91 shots for six goals for a paltry 6.6% holds that honor – but it's replaceable.

Beyond that, Scorpions fans will not soon forget Campos' last contribution to the club, as he was shown a red card that ultimately led to the Scorpions elimination from the playoffs in 2012. Perhaps his hot head may not be missed too much in the Alamo City.

Sattler was certainly impressive in goal for the Scorpions last year, but it’s important to remember that Pat Hannigan – not Sattler – was the original first choice for the team, and he will make his return from injury in 2013.

The other big issue with a Sattler replacement is that the Scorpions only have 2 goalkeepers on their roster, which means a third should be arriving any day now. The Scorpions were originally believed to be hunting Kevin Hartman, so don't be surprised if they target and land a big name.

The inclusions are largely unknown for USA soccer fans with 5 of the 11 players coming from eastern European countries – 2 from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, and 1 from Serbia.

One of the Scorpions eastern European signings, Edin Husic, who looks to be a danger on set pieces, had already showed his skill by scoring against Incarnate Word in a friendly on Wednesday night.

Three of the players from the east side of Europe are strikers, a position which the Scorpions will need depth with since Campos is gone. Nikola Vasilic looks like a replacement, having scored 4 goals this year in UEFA Champions League qualifying.

Of the more familiar recruits, defensive midfielder Pat Phelan's return to the USA is a solid capture for the Scorpions as he should provide useful service to the Scorpions strikers.

Bayona will need to have a much bigger role in 2013 than in 2012 and will likely be asked to start as the others get settled. Many will look to him to be a top goal scorer for the squad now that Campos has left.

The Scorpions will likely take some time to gel with such a new squad and, as a result, the spring season may be a little harder with little room for a slow start.

Predicted starting XI

Pat Hannigan; Stephen deRoux, Kevin Harmse, Greg Janicki, Luka Vucko; Pat Phelan, Walter Ramirez, Edin Husic, Hans Denissen; Esteban Bayona, Ivan Milicevic

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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