Will the Renewed SA Scorpions Finish the Job This Time?
Published: April 3, 2013
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Even though the San Antonio Scorpions had a near-perfect first season in 2012, the first and last games of that amazing run could not have been more disastrous — first, they were trashed by Puerto Rico in the home opener, and then, after being ahead, lost the semifinal when their top scorer snapped, leaving the Scorpions one man down for more than half of the game.
Looking back on that fatidic April 15, 2012, game (a crushing 0-4 defeat), Coach Tim Hankinson waxes philosophical and remembers something about that game that caused to the Scorpions’ impressive turnaround: the moment when five Puerto Rican players wanted to fight one Scorpion and no teammate came to his rescue.
“Basically, Puerto Rico came in and bullied us and put a fight on the field and we didn’t show the right instinct that we were ready to fight for each other,” Hankinson told the Current during pre-season practice two weeks ago. “That next game, after long discussions with the team, we played Ft. Lauderdale and a fight broke out which actually turned us in the right direction and showed we were ready to fight for each other. That doesn’t mean every game becomes fisticuffs, but it means you’re in a battle, us against them, and you need almost a boxer’s mentality: ‘If I don’t throw punches first, then I’m going to be defending myself all game.’”
The Scorpions quickly bounced back: they took revenge in Puerto Rico, beating the Islanders 2-0, and went on to win the regular season in decisive fashion. Forward Pablo Campos was the league’s top scorer and MVP (20 goals), goalie Daryl Sattler won the Golden Glove (13 clean sheets in 24 games), and the team had the league’s best attendance: filling an average of 9,100 seats per game. Home games never attracted less than 7,000 fans, and 13,000 people, the Scorpions’ highest attendance, turned out for their home opener: A very impressive first run for any expansion team in any sport.
But things are different this year: Campos, Sattler, and several top players are gone, and Coach Hankinson had to restructure the team based on the Scorpions’ budget. After careful consideration, he chose a formula that worked well for the first-division Major League Soccer Chicago Fire in 1998: get the best available Eastern European players out there. They’re strong, they’re fast, and they’re cheap.
“The [Chicago Fire] opted for similar ideas, rather than mixing many different international spices and making it hard to blend everything,” Hankinson said. “We also considered the fact that this league moves players around different teams, they’re all trying to make more bucks, but it’s always the same players. No one is trying to reach out outside of the league to bring in new blood and to try things, and we decided to take the risk,” he continued. “It could be an average season, where things don’t come together the way you imagined it, or it could be a fantastic season. To win cups you have to gamble a little bit and hope you produce a team that wins games.”
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