Photo Credit: Billy Forbes’s Twitter . Former members of SA Scorpions FC pose for a picture in their new clubs’ gear.
If a professional soccer match is played semi-unannounced but there’s no-one around to watch it, did it really happen? Like that proverbial tree that fell in the woods with no-one around, SAFC played a friendly against NASL side Rayo OKC on Saturday afternoon in Dallas.
When it comes to the goose egg attendance, it wasn’t a matter of lack of interest as I’m sure fans from both sides could have made the trek to the neutral site of Mountain View College. Rather this pre-season friendly was played behind closed doors, a trend I expect to carry through to possibly all of SAFC’s friendlies. The only advertising for the match came from a now-buried Rayo OKC press release on their website.
Where pre-season friendlies are concerned, SAFC has very little to gain by playing in front of crowds at Toyota Field or away. All of the energy is being focused into filling Toyota Field for the home opener on April 9th against Swope Park. There’s even a steal-of-a-deal trip being planned by the Crocketteers to head to the pacific northwest for the season opener against Seattle 2 the week before the home opener. By playing pre-season friendlies in front of fans, SAFC would be taking away the excitement of seeing the black and silver on the pitch for the first time.
So about today, 90 minutes of soccer were played to a 1-1 draw between the USL and NASL sides. That being said, I can’t emphasize enough how little preseason final scores matter. They’re not indicative of anything meaningful. What matters is how the team is working together, how players in starting position battles perform, and wether the XI on the field can execute what Coach Powell is asking them to do.
Unfortunately, very little was released about the game from either side. What we know is that all of the players who have been signed to SAFC played for 45 minutes each, that Milton Palacios scored SAFC’s only goal on what sounded like a phenomenal through pass by JJ, and that the club played in a 4-3-3 formation.
Per the SAFC release, the lineups were as follows for each half:
SAFC First Half XI: GK: Ford; D: Palacios, McCarthy, Okiomah, Cochrane; M: Reed, Alvarez, Castillo; F: Sanchez, Johnson, Chin.
SAFC Second Half XI: GK: Cardone; D: Trialist, Gunderson, McBride, Trialist; M: Thuriere, Salazar, Trialist; F: Araujo, Garcia, Trialist.
I’ll admit when I made my way-too-early starting XI, the idea of a 4-3-3 never crossed my mind (mostly because we only had two forwards at the time, but I digress). What sticks out to me as interesting is that Araujo and Garcia were both played as forwards in the second half after being introduced as midfielders in the SAFC press releases. Again, since the only video of the match is a clip of Rayo OKC scoring on a free kick just outside the box, we can’t say for certain if all three of the forwards played high or if it looked more akin to 4-3-2-1.
Pre-season is for seeing exactly what you have on your roster, so maybe Powell just wanted to give Araujo and Garcia a shot at playing up front. Maybe the coaching staff saw something in those two in scouting and playing them high was the plan all along. Maybe he just wanted to mess with bloggers who over analyze everything. I doubt that last one, but I guess we’ll never know.
One thing I do know is that with matches being played, even just pre-season friendlies, the excitement level I’m feeling has gone through the roof. Knowing that even though we’re over a month away, the next step after all of the friendlies are done is going to be taking on Seattle 2 on the road has me feeling like this is more real than ever. We’ve gone from a franchise without a name to playing what was practically SA Scorpions reincarnated to a draw in a few short months.
What Managing Director Tim Holt, Head Coach Darren Powell, the SAFC staff, and the players have put together in a few short weeks is nothing short of a miracle. How the club fares in league play will be seen, but San Antonio FC has no intentions on half-assing this year. I just selfishly hope that we get some sort of a sneak peak at what the club will look like before April.