The San Antonio Scorpions closed out the 2015 season with another draw up in Minnesota. The 2-2 draw included two penalty kicks, one for each side, and a stoppage time goal that saved a point for the Loons.
Giuseppe Gentile opened up the scoring in the 54' when he received an assist from Billy Forbes that just passed out of reach of the United keeper and slotted it home to put the visitors up 1-0. It was Gentile's 2nd goal for the Scorpions and it was Forbes' 8th assist of the season, surpassing his tally of 7 from 2014. His 8 assists are also a team record for number of assists in a season.
The Scorpions were up 2-1 going into stoppage time, just a few minutes from ending the season with 3 points. They were undone, however, by a goal by United's Kevin Venegas off a free-kick by Kalif Alhassan. Giving up the win late in the game was just another chapter in the story of this season. Many of the draws this year were close to being wins for the Scorpions, but weren't meant to be as late goals undid San Antonio throughout the season.
The off-season looks to be an eventful one as the stadium/team are up for sale and with the poor results in 2015 needing to be rectified. The Scorpions are already in search of a new head coach as news broke today that San Antonio has parted ways with Alen Marcina. The coaching search has begun and we will wait to see if there are any other changes in San Antonio.
Soccer On -ASC
All-time regular season series: 3-5-5
2015 head-to-head series: 0-1-1
The final game of the season is this Saturday in Blaine, Minnesota. The San Antonio Scorpions have a good shot at finishing the season at the bottom of the combined standings when it's all said and done. It's been a 180° turnaround for the club who won the 2014 Fall Championship and later the Soccer Bowl to become NASL champions. The Loons, however, will be returning to The Championship after a rocky start in the spring.
Minnesota come into this game with the highest scoring offense in the league, scoring over 50 goals, a league record. The Scorpions on the other hand have given up the most goals this season, a combination that could see the scoreboard light up Saturday night. San Antonio had a decent outing against the Cosmos last weekend in their home finale, losing out on a questionable PK & wonderfully taken free-kick. The Alamo City boys did, however, look threatening on the offensive and will try to end their season on a high note.
The series between Minnesota and San Antonio has been heated, to say the least. This "Not A Rivalry" rivalry game will be a great opportunity for the visitors to send their opponent from up north with a loss as they enter the post-season. The last time the Scorpions visited Minnesota, they came away with a 2-2 draw, highlighted by SA's Zourab Tsiskaridze's free-kick goal from 60 yards out.
The Scorpions were able to hand Minnesota a 1-0 loss in Blaine at the end of last season but have yet to get in the win column this season versus the Loons.
The game is this Saturday at 7pm CST in Blaine, Minnesota and can be viewed on ESPN3. #MNUvSAS
Soccer On -ASC
All-time regular season series: 3-5-4
2015 head-to-head series: 0-1-0
The last time that these two teams met was in Minnesota this spring. The outcome was a draw, but was not without some excitement. San Antonio came out very strong to start the game. The first half was highlighted by Scorpion midfielder Zourab Tsiskaridze's 60 yard golazo to open up the scoring. He took a free kick & punted the ball past the Loons' 'keeper who was caught off his line and scored. Here it is again:
After falling behind in the second half, San Antonio would equalize and leave Minnesota with a point via a Castillo PK in the dying moments of the game. It was an exciting game that gave the Scorpions their first point of the season after failing to earn any points in their first two outings.
Q & A with Northern Pitch's Kyle Eliason.
ASC: It seems like Christian Ramirez has been playing better since the departure of Ibarra. Is he filling in that vacancy? Can you explain his recent form?
Kyle: Ramirez and Ibarra developed an excellent understanding over the course of the 2014 season—I would hesitate to claim Ibarra's departure has been responsible for a return to form for Ramirez. Ramirez rightly came into the Spring Season as the first-choice center forward but the Loons were disjointed as a team in attack at the beginning of the 2015 campaign. While Lagos has tried to fit Ramirez and Pablo Campos into the same eleven at different points, those limited attempts have proven generally unfruitful. Additionally, Lagos has a track record of only tinkering with his team's starting lineup after disappointing performances. It was more the case that Campos came in for Ramirez when the team was struggling and Ramirez did not get another shot at starting until the team hit another rough patch. He did have a few nice shots on goal coming off the bench in the middle of the Fall Season. His recent play is more the combination of opportunity, improved attacking play from his teammates and the confidence that comes with both.
ASC: What is the Loons' perspective of the rivalry between San Antonio & Minnesota? Is there one?
Kyle: There have been some excellent exchanges on the field between the Loons and Scorpions, which is where, absent proximity—which can be difficult to come by for many North American clubs—you would hope would be the origin of any rivalry. However, I think Cornfield's antics have hampered the development of such a rivalry as he is seen as a bit of a comical try-hard by many in Minnesota. If you really are someone's rival, there is not a great need to repeatedly remind them.
ASC: I definitely agree about the formation of a rivalry - if it is there you don't need to constantly remind them of it.
Kyle: I am rather optimistic. Brent Kallman replacing Cristiano Dias has helped shore up a defense that was among the more porous during the Spring Season and communication between Sammy Ndjock and his back line is slowly improving. Additionally, the Loons look more coordinated on attack. Kalif Alhassan was the highest rated reserve over the course of the Spring Season in Northern Pitch's staff and community match ratings and it is nice to see him receiving additional minutes in the wake of Ibarra's departure. Ibson has looked better in a central attacking role as of recent. New loanee Yago offers a change of pace to Daniel Mendes out wide. Ramirez is scoring again. If only Saturday's match were taking place in Blaine. Still, I think the Loons will pick up all three points. I will say 2-1 Minnesota.
Both teams have been very inconsistent this year, a far cry from the top contenders that controlled the league in 2014. Both teams are learning to play without major contributors to their teams; Miguel Ibarra is now playing in Liga MX with Club León, while Julius James, the San Antonio defender, is out for the season after breaking his leg just a few games ago.
Since the Scorpions joined the league in 2012, the regular season series between San Antonio and Minnesota has been pretty even at 3-5-4, with Minnesota earning one more win so far. With current form coming into play, I am predicting a draw for this game. Assuming that Omar returns to the lineup, I believe that the combination of he and Billy Forbes will give the Loons' defense a hard time and possibly give us some advantages...if we take them.
The game is this Saturday, July 23rd at Toyota Field in San Antonio. Kick-off is at 7:30pm CST. #SASvMNU
A big thanks to Kyle (@kreliason) & Northern Pitch (@northernpitch) for exchanging a few questions with me!
Soccer On -ASC
San Antonio came out strong in their first road match of the season. Tsiskaridze opened up the scoring with a 60 yard bomb from a free-kick that gave the visitors a 1-0 lead early in the game. It made headlines...
This wasn't Tsiskaridze's first long goal, he had one from almost the same spot when he was on the Swedish Superettan club, Jönköpings Södra IF.
San Antonio fell behind in the second-half though when former Scorpion, Pablo Campos, netted his first goal since 2013. Christian Ramirez converted a PK in the 59' to give the home side a 2-1 advantage. Late in the game, the Minnesota goalie, Sammy Ndjock, tried to clear a ball in the box, but instead hit Elizondo on the head and San Antonio was given a penalty. Rafael Castillo calmly slotted it home for his first goal of the season and secured an away point, the first point of the season for San Antonio, spoiling Minnesota's first home game and sending their record crowd home disappointed.
I had predicted that Minnesota would win this game; They came close to winning, but San Antonio played hard and capitalized off of two mistakes by the United keeper. A good result against a good squad. There is still plenty of work to do, but a least we aren't 0-0-3 to start the season. Each game we look a little better.
The red & black return to the field this coming Saturday, May 2, against the expansion Jacksonville Armada in Florida. This will be the first match-up between the two sides.
Soccer On -ASC
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