The San Antonio Scorpions will end their 2015 campaign after the final whistle at the end of their match against Minnesota United on Halloween night. The draw the Alamo City Boys earned last night in South Florida mathematically eliminated them from the possibility of the playoffs, and the chance to be the first repeat champions in the modern NASL era.
The Strikers and Scorpions played a very open game last night. The Strikers controlled most of the possession throughout the game, but both sides had goal scoring opportunities that were not taken advantage of. Both goalkeepers made fantastic saves during the game, seemingly trying to outdo the other. This was the 4th shutout of Daniel Fernandes' San Antonio career and the first shutout since the 2-0 win over Indy Eleven back on September 12th.
The boys in Red & Black return to action this Saturday in their final home match of the season versus the New York Cosmos. Reports say that Real Madrid legend, Raúl, will play in that game. If nothing else, the opportunity to see a player like him in our home stadium will be a treat for the home fans as they say goodbye to the Scorpions until next season. The Scorpions will end the 2015 season with a trip up to Minnesota to face the loons.
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All-time regular season series: Tied 4-5-4
2015 head-to-head series: FTL leads 0-1-1
The Fort Lauderdale Strikers will play host to the San Antonio Scorpions for the final time in 2015. This is the final "rematch" of the 2014 NASL Soccer Bowl, which San Antonio won 2-1 last November. With 90% of the 2015 season already played, these two teams will be ending their seasons in very different ways. The Strikers, coming off the Soccer Bowl loss, are in position to claim the final Championship playoff spot this year. On the other hand, the defending champions are virtually eliminated from post-season contention. While mathematically still in the race, their 1-0 loss in Ottawa on Sunday made it practically impossible for the champs to have the chance to repeat.
The last time these two clubs met, Stefano Pinho, the league's Golden Boot leader and MVP candidate, scored his 2nd hat-trick of the season (no other NASL player even has one hat-trick) to down the Scorpions 2-4 at Toyota Field. The defense played well in Canada this past weekend though, especially goalie Daniel Fernandes. He'll be tasked with trying to prevent Pinho from adding to his goal tally. A tough task to say the least.
The Strikers are coming off an impressive 4-0 home victory over the Carolina Railhawks and will look to continue their goal scoring prowess to help them secure their 2nd consecutive playoff appearance.
San Antonio has not won in Fort Lauderdale since a 4-1 win back on June 29, 2013. With their post-season hopes hanging by a thread, and vying to not end up at the bottom of the table, it will be 3 points or bust for the Alamo City Boys in South Florida
It's a quick turnaround for the Scorpions, who just played on Sunday. Striker Eric Hassli will be unavailable due to his questionable red card he received in Canada. The Scorpions will have to look to Cummings, Tyrpak, and Gentile to be the ones to score for the Red & Black.
Playing against a team that is also playing for the playoffs, playing away from home, and playing on a short turn around are not the ideal conditions to play with. The Scorpions will have to overcome these if they want to leave Florida for the final time in 2015 with 3 points. We'll see if they can do it. History is against them and San Antonio hasn't bucked any bad trends this year.
The game is today at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Game time is 6:30 pm CST and can be watched on ESPN3. #FTLvSAS
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A first half goal from Joseph Nane, his first of the season, was not enough to take home all three points on Saturday night. San Antonio and Fort Lauderdale drew a 1-1 game on a wet South Texas night. The home team opened up the scoring in the 21' minute when Nane chipped the rock over the Strikers' keeper, Lionel Brown. The Scorpions looked to go into the locker room at halftime up 1-0, until a lapse in the defense gave Fort Lauderdale's Stefano Pinho the equalizer.
The second half was full of opportunities for the home side to take the lead, but none were converted. The Alamo City Eleven became the Alamo City Ten after Stephen DeRoux received his second yellow, and subsequent red card, in the 86' minute. Even with a man down, the Scorpions pushed for the game winner. Multiple Billy Forbes attacks were saved by keeper Brown. The closest scoring opportunity came from an Omar Cummings kick across goal that just missed the post by an inch.
San Antonio hits the road this weekend for its last away game of the Spring season against the Atlanta Silverbacks. The Scorpions return to Toyota Field on June 13th in their Spring finale against the Ottawa Fury. Only six points separate the 10th placed Scorpions from second place. With six points up for grabs in the final two games, it will be critical to win all in order to have any advantage when the Fall season begins.
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Both San Antonio and Ft. Lauderdale come into this game with the exact same record, and both coming off league losses last week and U.S. Open Cup losses this past Wednesday. San Antonio has struggled to find the back of the net, despite having the league's leading scorer in Omar Cummings, and their defense has allowed the second most goals against giving the Scorpions the league's worst goal differential.
The Strikers haven't been able to find the back of the net either, failing to score in their last three NASL games. The team is playing with new Brazilian ownership this season and look to have turned a corner from their previous selves. While the results have yet to come to fruition, the team is doing well in the community and now has a new neighbor in Miami FC, who will join in 2016.
Last season & Outlook.
Last year, these two teams were an even 1-1-1 until the Soccer Bowl win for the Scorpions. San Antonio leads the all-time series against the Strikers, 5-4-3, including 1-0 in post-season play. The most important game in San Antonio's history was the 2-1 win last November over the Strikers that gave the Scorpions the NASL title.
Both teams have been eliminated from contention for the Spring title race - made official after the Scorpions lost to the league leading New York Cosmos last weekend. The focus for both teams should be to get as many points from their remaining games. With three games each, the most points that one of these two teams can achieve in the Spring is 16. Both cannot achieve that as the play each other this weekend with the same amount of points coming into the game.
Players to watch.
From Ft. Lauderdale, my player to watch is Leo Moura, the Strikers' high profile signing from Brazil. The aging star is tied for most goals in NASL play for the team. Although the Strikers haven't scored in three NASL games, I don't think that trend will continue - especially against the porous Scorpions defense.
The player to watch for the Scorpions will be Rafael Castillo. Castillo came on in the second half of the Scorpions' U.S. Open Cup match against the Austin Aztex and immediately took control of the midfield and even added a couple scoring opportunities. I think Castillo will get the start since he only played a half of soccer, but his control of the ball in the midfield will be crucial, not only for getting the ball down the field, but also keeping it away from the Strikers.
I think that the Scorpions have more firepower relative to the Strikers. This game won't see a lot of goals, if any. I'm predicting a 1-0 scoreline. This game can go either way really easily, so the scoreline is what I'll predict - not the winner.
The game is this Saturday, May 30th at 7:30pm CST at Toyota Field. #SASvFTL
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