Scorpions Under Pressure at Atlanta

San Antonio heads to Atlanta after winning its first game of the season
by Chris Hockman   |   Friday, May 24, 2013

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

“Our players should be ashamed of how they played tonight.”

Those evocative words were not from a Scorpions fan on Tuesday night, but rather from manager Tim Hankinson as he struggled to come to terms with how his side crumbled against a team 2 divisions below them in FC Tucson, which is a side mostly made up of college kids.

In truth, the Scorpions were lucky to take to a penalty shootout. After being the far better side in the first half, they were completely out played in the second and only really showed energy and commitment in the final 10 minutes before a penalty call allowed them to equalize.

But what Tuesday did was mark a turning point, whereas before most of the fans just felt the Scorpions were a tad unlucky. On Tuesday, they finally turned to being angry.

Some have expressed dismay at the players, who seem to be lacking the passion that was shown last year, while a lot more have vented about Hankinson.

Here's the issue: Hankinson isn't going anywhere, like him or not. This is a team operating for charity and Morgan's Wonderland isn't going to make a cent if they have to pay out contracts.

And perhaps that's another issue: there's no motivation yet. The club won't tear up the player contracts, at least not US players, nor that of the coaching staff, as that would cost extra money on top of the replacement's salary.

Will the motivation come? Well it has to eventually. The players are at the very least playing for future contracts, but it's only May and they really don't need to produce yet.

Success from Silverbacks

This upcoming match really is the tale of opposites. Atlanta was a side that did very poorly last year and nobody expected much this year. But the Silverbacks have done incredibly well this year. San Antonio, though, did tremendous last year, but have been a basket case this year.

Atlanta has been hitting some incredible form as its strikers have been producing while the defense has held up well against the good sides in this division.

Ruben Luna is an especially frustrating element for Scorpions fans as he was in San Antonio on loan last year, but he was never used and now finds himself playing plenty of minutes and scoring goals in Atlanta. He'd love to continue that against the club that didn't want him.

Atlanta is an interesting team. It has the best offense in the league, scoring 12 goals, with Luna and Mendes being a dangerous combination.

But the Silverbacks' defense is just as leaky as the Scorpions.

The issue for San Antonio this week is the role of midfielder Javier Saavedra. His footwork and control is truly a class above this league, but he's old for a player and he looked over worked on Tuesday. If he does play in Atlanta, he won't have the impact he had last week when he won NASL’s Player of the Week.

Kevin Harmse will come back for the Scorpions and should provide some more stability in defense while Bryan Jordan looks likely to start, making the Scorpions more likely to score.

The role of Hans Denissen will also be something to consider. He proved on Tuesday that he can make waves as he was part of the build up for the penalty and scored it.

For some reason, Denissen appears out of favor, which is interesting since in Carolina he seemed the only midfielder who wanted to help defensively. And for a team that lacks passion, he has it in spades.

It's time Denissen gets back in the squad. His addition, alongside Jordan, could provide a real offensive spark, just like it did on Tuesday.

Prediction: The Scorpions played well on Saturday, but still looked shaky defensively as Tuesday showed. Atlanta can score, but the Silverbacks are also struggling at the back. There will be goals. 2-1 Atlanta

NEXT UP: May 25 – San Antonio Scorpions vs. Atlanta Silverbacks, Atlanta Silverbacks Park, Atlanta. 6:30 p.m. CDT, NASL Livestream.

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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