I’ve had over a year to come up with a good way to start this article, but I think the following tweet from Rafa Castillo is better than any words I could piece together.
Here we go my friend……. again pic.twitter.com/SHsXAqIOCB
— rafa castillo (@RafaCastillo_16) January 10, 2017
Billy Forbes is back. For those who have followed San Antonio soccer since the days of the Scorpions, those four words are all you need.
For everyone else, the attacking midfielder has been a fan favorite in San Antonio since his rookie season in 2014. Forbes played for the Scorpions in their 2014 championship run and returned for the club’s final season in 2015. In 2016, Forbes followed former Scorpions coach Alen Marcina to expansion NASL club Rayo OKC. In case you missed it, the short history of Rayo OKC is one of a foreign-owned club with a front office not given enough resources to succeed that folded after barely making it through one season.
Out of that dumpster fire Forbes returns to San Antonio to join Spurs Sports and Entertainment’s USL soccer club, San Antonio FC, in its second season. Forbes is the latest in a series of player announcements that are keeping fans on their toes. Several key players from SAFC’s 2016 campaign have returned, including fellow former Scorpions players Rafa Castillo, Cesar Elizondo, and Matt Cardone. Fellow new-comers include some of USL’s most talented, forward Kris Tyrpak, center back Cyprian Hedrick, and full back Ben Newnam among others. A full list of player announcements can be found on our roster tracker post.
Forbes is all but certain to earn a spot in the starting XI when the season kicks off in late March, but he’ll be surrounded with arguably the most talented roster to ever call Toyota Field home.
With USL gaining joint second division status alongside NASL, Forbes’s move is a lateral one on paper. But anyone following along in 2016 (like by listening to our weekly podcast) knows the jump to USL provides security that no NASL team can provide at the moment, even the once-mighty NY Cosmos. As club after club folds or jumps to USL, the 2017 season will be a definitive chapter in the history of modern NASL.
The security that USL provides starts with the partnership with MLS, but continues with the higher quality ownership groups. For a player who started his professional career in San Antonio, coming back to play for a Spurs Sports and Entertainment owned franchise seems like it would be an easy decision. But at the end of the day, soccer is a business and SAFC very likely offered a salary high enough to keep Forbes’s interest on the Mission City. SAFC doesn’t release contract details and it is just about impossible to find accurate salary information on USL and NASL players. Still, Forbes is one of the top players in this level of competition and likely garnered attention from many clubs across the country.
Forbes and the rest of the roster will report for camp soon, with the 2017 USL season kicking off in late March.