San Antonio vs. Soccer: Thoughts on the World Cup friendly between Mexico and South Korea

courtesy backpagefootball.com

courtesy backpagefootball.com

San Antonio, TX – So the numbers came in for attendance at the Mexico vs. South Korea friendly World Cup warm up played at the Alamodome, Wednesday night.

According to reports the match drew a record 54,313 fans.

There were actually some South Korean supporters in attendance as well.  They were the small clusters of folks wearing red shirts and their inflatable rally sticks they banged together anytime S. Korea had a corner or free kick.  I think they might win the award for the cutest supporters in Brazil …. we will see!

One huge aspect of the game, I had thought would be an issue from the start, was the condition of the natural turf in the dome.  While I am not against playing soccer in a dome, I would expect that it would be on a natural surface where it involves two World Cup bound teams.  Soccer, deserves to be played on a natural grass surface, regardless.

Thankfully, San Antonio did the right thing by having natural grass installed for the match.

However, the way the commentator’s on ESPN made it seem, it was by the behest of the Mexican Federation representatives.  Sadly, this argument is still necessary in America and I’m not surprised it had to be requested for the Alamodome.  I’m sure the prospect of Mexico losing Oribe Peralta to some fake grass in San Antonio, Texas – was not too appealing to the federation.

The pitch, however, was in terrible conditions, again a point the ESPN commentators managed to spend quite a bit of time commenting about.  They used terms like, ‘rock solid’ and ‘bumpy’ to describe the field conditions.  The worst part was the visible seems from the newly laid turf on the field which can be as dangerous as playing on synthetic grass at times.  This was also expressed by Mexico manager, Miguel Herrera, before the game.

So although natural grass was laid, the issue of the field conditions wasn’t addressed properly.  I’d have to say, that was a fail, on the part of San Antonio and the Alamodome.

Also, with the attendance being over 50,000, I only question what that means for San Antonio.  While there is quite enough evidence to suggest San Antonio is a destination for Mexico supporters, I’d like to see the numbers of US born citizens who were in attendance.

From what I understand, there were quite a few.

Of course this is purely anecdotal, but from what I can tell through different social media outlets and comments on local news stories, quite a few San Antonio and Texas natives joined in the festivities.  You may not have been able to notice them, but they were there.

Courtesy Julian Castro via Facebook

Courtesy Julian Castro via Facebook

This is positive for San Antonio, but more importantly, positive for the mayor who continues to court MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

I think it needs to be restated, that people in San Antonio desire soccer and even for the casual fan, are interested in witnessing the spectacle.  I’d say good work on earning a World Cup friendly, but your next project will be to lure the MLS.

A Look Into the Academy System with the New England Revolution

This is a great example of how the academy system will benefit soccer in the US.  If our players are exposed to opportunities to play at a high level early in their development, they will always have the expectation to play at the highest level possible.

Also, what seperates soccer from other sports in the United States, is the loyalty players have for the clubs that exist in their cities or regions.  If players are ‘homegrown’ they will have more of an incentive to play at home and in the MLS.  It is rare in American professional sports to see a team made up of entirely local born and raised players.  This is the possibility with academies.

Over time, our league will begin to witness the development of players accelerate giving way to that one special player who is world class.

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/soccer?guid=2667084&t=10-392

Scorpions sign Ruben Luna on loan from FC Dallas

Courtesy SA Scorpions FC & FC Dallas

Courtesy FC Dallas @ http://www.fcdallas.com

The SA Scorpions FC announce the addition of forward Ruben Luna on loan from FC Dallas of Major League Soccer.  The player will be on loan for the remainder of the NASL season.

FC Dallas can recall Luna at any time during the last six games of the season.  The player will most likely be included in any playoff games once the regular season commences.

Luna was born in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico and grew up in Garland, Texas.  In 2009, Luna was named the US Development Academy Player of the Year for the U-16 age group and lead the league in scoring with 38 goals in 27 games.

He would flourish as a member of the U-18 FC Dallas Academy in 2010 with a team-high 26 goals in 29 appearances. As a result, he was named to the U.S. U-18 Development Academy Starting XI.

Luna, 20, signed with FC Dallas as a homegrown player in July 2010 and made his first MLS appearance on Sept. 4th, 2010 against Toronto.  In 2011, Luna appeared in 15 MLS matches and led FC Dallas with two goals scored in CONCACAF Champions League play.

“Ruben brings experience from MLS and gives us a player that adds depth to a vital position,” Scorpions Head Coach Tim Hankinson said. “Having him should allow us to deal with different challenges and situations and help us get in a good position for the playoffs.”

“Just as we did with Moises Hernandez, we thought this was a good opportunity for a young player to get the games he needs to continue his development,” said FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman. “It’s nice having a team like San Antonio so geographically close. It gives Ruben the chance to really speed up the growth process, without us having to send him too far away.”

The Scorpions, who currently sit in first place in the NASL with 42 points and lead the league in goals scored, are hoping to become the first expansion team in the NASL to finish the regular season in first place. San Antonio clinched a playoff spot for the 2012 NASL playoffs with a win over the Tampa Rowdies on Aug. 19.

Press Release: 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge Broadcast Partners announced

ESPN, FOX Soccer, Univision Deportes Network, TSN, Sportsnet and RDS family of networks to air matches

NEW YORK / LOS ANGELES (Tuesday, July 10, 2012) – All 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge matches will be broadcast in the U.S. on ESPN, FOX Soccer, Univision Deportes Network and Univision Radio, while TSN, Sportsnet and RDS will be the event’s broadcast partners in Canada, it was announced today by Major League Soccer (MLS) and CAA Sports.

In the U.S., ESPN networks — ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3 — will televise five matches. ESPN2 will kick off the Herbalife World Football Challenge broadcasts on July 18 live from Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, when three-time defending U.S. Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC host UEFA Champions League winner Chelsea FC.

FOX Soccer will broadcast four Herbalife World Football Challenge games, including the August 5 match in Las Vegas between Spain and Mexico’s current league champions, Real Madrid and Santos Laguna, respectively.  For the July 22 match, the FOX Soccer broadcast will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a special pre-game show. Spanish language network FOX Deportes will air three matches. See below for broadcast times.

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San Antonio Struggles To Find Soccer Identity

Pro soccer is on the way to San Antonio and long time soccer fans might be getting two teams to support.  But, will this cause a crisis in soccer identity?

The San Antonio Scorpions FC are scheduled to begin play in April later this year.  Their home opener will occur April 15th at Heroes Stadium on the Northeaset side of town against the Puerto Rico islanders.

Heroes Stadium holds 11,000 and is owned and operated by the Northeast Independent School District specifically for high school sports and athletics.  The Scorpions FC have plans to build a 6,000-seat stadium to begin hosting NASL league matches in 2013.

Meanwhile, Spurs Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the NBA San Antonio Spurs, have been locked in a battle with the Southside Independent School District over the eventual use of Alamo Stadium.  The SAISD recently allocated $35 million dollars from a bond to renovate Alamo Stadium with the focus on expanding the grounds to accommodate a FIFA regulation sized soccer field.

With a vote in favor of expanding the field and preserving the track for high school track and field, the door for SS&E has been opened to proceed with their plans to establish San Antonio’s second pro soccer franchise.  The SS&E pro soccer team will compete in the USL and will play their home games in the 23,000-seat Alamo Stadium.

If SS&E are successful in establishing a pro soccer team and the SA Scorpions FC build their new stadium, soccer supporters might face a dilemma.  Do they choose to remain loyal to the Spurs franchise or do they continue to support ‘soccer for a cause?’

For some clarity perhaps, one might want to ponder a few things before making any snap judgements.  Both teams will be competing in two different leagues considered by US Soccer as Division 2, one step removed from Major League Soccer.

The Scorpions will compete in the NASL (North American Soccer League) and SS&E will compete in the USL (United Soccer Leagues).  Both leagues have a significant history with each other and were once one league.

Although the USL has been operating for 30 years and boasts 12 teams expanding into San Antonio has long been talked about.  The NASL, however, has a more colorful past and will infamously be remembered for the wild ride it took us on in the ‘70s and bringing Pele to America.

The leagues these two teams compete in is a minor detail, although, it is a fact that the USL will offer more league matches per season than the NASL, which only has 9 teams including the Scorpions.

What I’m wondering is, which team will make an easier transition into the MLS?

By all indications the Scorpions FC and Gordon Hartman have all the intention in the world to move forward with establishing a pro soccer franchise in San Antonio.  They are very close to making that dream a reality.  So I ask, how much longer will it take for them to get into the MLS?

As much as I hate using school district funded stadiums for professional sports, when I make the comparison between organizations, it does appear that SS&E have taken the fast track to becoming an MLS expansion team.

Don Garber, MLS Commissioner, has already indicated that San Antonio is a viable option, recently stating that a minor league team “might be good prospects to virtually promote up into MLS.”  This coming from a man who we already have a rocky history with, given our last dealings with the commissioner.

That being said, SS&E’s final direction has yet to be discovered and a team has yet to be announced.  Should there be an announcement in the near future, I would like both clubs/organizations to remember the original focus of the supporters in San Antonio, and that is Major League Soccer.