All-time regular season series: SAS leads 7-0-6
2015 head-to-head series: Tied 1-0-1
Saturday's game will be the final meeting between these two sides for the 2015 season. Both match-ups so far have been blow outs; A 3-1 away victory for the Rowdies on opening night, and a 3-0 home win for the Scorpions early in the Fall season. The Scorpions have improved their defense in the past few games, say for the 3 goals given up against Carolina midweek last. Through the first 6 games of the Fall season, the Scorpions gave up 16 goals whereas in the last 6 games they have only given up 5. Unfortunately, the decrease in goals scored against San Antonio was also accompanied by a decrease in goals scored for the Scorpions; 13 goals for in the first 6 games versus only 7 in the last 6. If San Antonio can marry their current defensive improvement with the high scoring attack from earlier in the Fall, the Alamo City boys will give themselves a chance to move up the table if they can string together some wins.
Q & A with Unused Substitutes Podcast co-host, Matt
ASC: The Rowdies had one of the best turnarounds from 2014 to 2015, only missing out on the Spring title by 1 point and have been sitting in 4th place in the combined standings. It was a shock to see Rongen and Quraishi let go while the team is in a playoff position. Can you explain why Bill Edwards released him?
Matt: I don't know if we'll ever get the whole story about the firings of Rongen and Quraishi - the reasons given publicly revolved around our start to the Fall season, which was poor, and Edwards desire to win now instead of building for the future. There have been rumors of player discontent, but nothing really solid until Georgi Hristov's post-game comments after the win over New York, so there may be something to that.
ASC: What did Georgi Hristov say in his post-game comments?
Matt: I'm paraphrasing here, but something to the effect of: There's been some changes and you can see by the result tonight that the owner made the right decision.
ASC: Since the head coaching change, the Rowdies are 1-1-2 with a win against the Cosmos; Is this an improvement over how the team was doing with Rongen at the helm?
Matt: After coming so close to the Spring title, we started out Fall with a win over Atlanta, but then lost 3 straight. We picked up a win and a draw after that, before losing two more games prior to the staff changes. I write the first loss under new coach Stuart Campbell off because the coaching change was made the Thursday before a Saturday game, but I thought we played well in the second half vs Ottawa to get a point on the road, on turf, and after conceding 2 early goals, and the win over New York may have been the most complete match I've seen us play since we came back into existence. Last weekend's result was disappointing, but kind of par for the course as road games and turf games have been our jinxes this year. There's been some modification to the shape and the starting lineup, and some of the guys seem to be responding well to it, but it's still very much a work in progress.
ASC: Besides Raúl, the Rowdies had the biggest signing for the league when they inked former USMNT player, Freddy Adu, who had a great relationship with Rongen. Do you see him sticking around next year, now that the coach that brought him to Tampa is gone?
Matt: It's really hard to say at this point what will happen. Freddy's only signed through the end of the Fall season and has only played a few minutes before suffering an injury. He's finally back in full training and traveled last week but was an...unused substitute (subliminal plug there!) He's still been a presence at the stadium and seems to be in good spirits. Personally, I'd like to see him stick around because I think he can contribute to this team, we're not looking to him to be the face of the club or trade on his name to sell extra tickets, he's here because the coaches believe he can be an important part of this team.
ASC: What is the most important thing that needs to happen in order for Tampa to stay in the playoff race, besides just winning?
Matt: In no particular order, we've got to keep guys healthy, the defense needs to find it's Spring form, our midfielders need to be a more imposing presence in their area, and our forwards have to finish the chances they get. As a team, we've got to get this road/turf jinx out of our heads and get results.
ASC: The Rowdies Den looks like a great hangout place before/after games & for watch parties; Is it a popular place among Rowdies fans?
Matt: Like any new venture, it's had some bumps in the road but is a packed place on game days. We broadcast our show from the Den live on Monday nights, and it's a fantastic place to see a lot of original Rowdies memorabilia as well. There's a lot of American soccer history on those walls!
ASC: Do you think (or want) Stuart Campbell will be the head coach in 2016?
Matt: I think Campbell's tenure as coach may depend on making the playoffs this season. I also think he should at least get a whole season to prove himself, regardless. He's the last link to our 2012 championship team, he's a player and fan-favorite. To rebound and win with him would be fantastic but Edwards has put everyone on notice that he expects results, and that he's willing to invest to get them, and that he's willing to shake things up if that's what it takes too.
ASC: What is your prediction for the 4 playoff teams come November?
Matt: New York, Ottawa, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay
ASC: Prediction for this weekend's game against San Antonio?
Matt: They're going to want to show they're the team that won 3-1 in the season opener, not the one that lost 3-0 (or 7-0 last year!), so I'll say a 2-1 win for the Rowdies.
The Rowdies have been reeling in this Fall season and this is a great opportunity for the Scorpions to strike while the iron is hot. While the Red & Black haven't won on the road since late in the Spring, this game could be the one to break the 5 game road winless streak. Omar Cummings scored in both meetings this year, including a brace in the Scorpions' 3-0 Fall home victory. Cummings hasn't scored in over a month; Will he end his drought against the Rowdies? I'll predict that the Scorpions come away with a 3-2 victory in a shootout by the bay.
A special thanks to Matt from the Unused Subs Podcast for answering my questions! You can follow him and the Unused Subs Pod on Twitter @Unsub_Matt & @UnusedSubsPod. Their website is www.theunsubs.com (they're also on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Instagram, and Periscope)
The game is this Saturday, September 19th at 6:30pm CST at Al Lang Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. #TBRvSAS
Soccer On -ASC
2015 fall game 2 result: 3-0 win for San Antonio at Toyota Field
2015 head-to-head series: 1-0-1
The second half saw SA's goals leader, Omar Cummings, net a brace to give the home squad a resounding 3-0 victory over their visitors from Florida. The brace gives Cummings 7 goals on the year and puts him at the top of the NASL's scoring chart, surpassing FC Edmonton's Lance Laing. This win should bring a much needed confidence boost going forward; Have the Scorpions turned the corner on a mediocre season?
The Scorpions return to action on Wednesday, their first midweek game this season, against FC Edmonton. It will be the final regular season game against the Eddies for 2015. San Antonio will look to avenge their fall opening 0-4 rout by the Eddies in Alberta in the inaugural Wood Buffalo Cup.
The game is this Wednesday at 7:30 pm CST at Toyota Field. #SASvFCE
Soccer On -ASC
2015 spring season
The Rowdies played a great spring season. They finished with a 5-4-1 record, their only loss coming from the spring champion New York Cosmos. They nearly won the spring ending up only one point behind the Cosmos. The last time that the Scorpions and Rowdies met was the opening game of the 2015 season back in April. The Rowdies came into Toyota Field and thrashed the defending champs 1-3, with Omar Cummings scoring a consolation goal in stoppage time.
The Scorpions' spring season couldn't be more opposite than their next opponent. The Scorpions, coming off their first NASL championship in 2014, were looking to be the first club in the modern-era NASL to repeat. That dream is still alive, but barely. After starting the spring 0-1-3, the Alamo eleven ended the spring on a 3-2-1 run, an improvement to say the least. The defense has let the team down; with 19 games to go, the Scorpions are only 5 goals away from giving up as many goals as they did the entire 2014 season. Couple that with plenty of missed goal scoring opportunities and you have the make up for a middle to bottom of the table team.
Players to watch.
Omar Cummings was the league's goal scoring leader until Lance Laing usurped him in the Eddies' beat down of the Scorpions last Sunday. Cummings had a few one-on-one opportunities with the Eddies' goalie Van Oekel, but couldn't convert. The Scorpions go as Omar goes. If he can start to score again, San Antonio will have a shot of getting at least a point against the league leaders.
Forward Corey Hertzog will be a player that San Antonio will need to look out for. The 24 year old scored in the season opening win against San Antonio and has tallied 3 total goals this season. He's played the most minutes out of all the forwards on the Rowdies' roster. He can and will give our defense a run for their money.
The Rowdies are coming off a 2-1 win over Atlanta and the Scorpions are coming off a 0-4 defeat to Edmonton to start the fall campaign. With no real signs of improvement over the course of the season and summer break, it is hard to give the nod to the Alamo boys - they will be underdogs in most, if not all of their remaining fall games. It'll be a 2-1 win for the visiting Rowdies, giving them their second win at Toyota Field this season.
The game is this Saturday, July 11 at 7:30 pm CST at Toyota Field. #SASvTBR
Soccer On -ASC
On a night that was filled with anticipation and excitement, the only exciting part of the Scorpions 2015 season opener was reliving the memories of last year's championship. The team held a ring and banner raising ceremony before kickoff, which included a touching moment when Michael Kelley got to sign a NASL contract, received a championship ring, and received a Scorpions jacket to wear. You can read his story, here.
In my match preview I had predicted a 2-2 draw thinking that the excitement of the pregame ceremony would prevent us from taking all three points. I was correct in that it would distract us, but unfortunately, we came out empty handed and sit at the bottom of the league table.
Our defense had trouble with the Rowdies forwards all night long. In a surprising lineup change, newcomer Abdul-Salaam got the nod over Zourab Tsiskaridze who had been playing with the team for most of the pre-season. It seemed as though Tsiskaridze had been playing pretty well as a defensive midfielder but was left out of the starting lineup for some reason. He warmed up with the team and looked fit - he was listed as available as a substitute.
While our back line had some chemistry issues, our midfield and attackers couldn't do much in the first half. The entire game was littered with yellow cards and questionable reffing for both sides and included a yellow accumulated red card for Julius James, who will miss the Scorpions next game. The home squad had a couple of opportunities to bring a goal back, but were thwarted by the crossbar. It seemed as though most of our attacks were not built up from the back, but rather through long balls down the field. This is definitely an area that the team must improve on. The lone Scorpions goal came by Omar Cummings who tapped in a Castillo rebound in second half stoppage time. A consolation prize for a team that was thoroughly out played all night long.
San Antonio has its bye week this week and play next at home against the visiting Indy Eleven. Defense and goal scoring are the two areas that need the most improvement if the Scorpions want any chance at the Spring season. With only 10 games total, and 9 remaining, the Spring is a sprint and in order to win the Spring, the Scorpions can't allow anymore games like on Saturday.
Soccer On -ASC
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