Today USL San Antonio, along with the league, announced their inaugural 2016 USL schedule. As was announced last week, San Antonio will play a total of 30 games - all of them against their Western Conference cohorts. The Alamo City boys will open up their USL experience by traveling to the Pacific North-West to face Seattle Sounders 2 at Starfire Sports Complex on April 3. They then return to Texas for their first home game the following week on April 9 when they take on fellow expansion side, Swope Park Rangers - the MLS reserve side for two-time MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City.
After examining the schedule, the league seems to have focused their efforts to schedule multiple games with teams that are regionally close to each other, more-than-likely to lower travelling costs and to encourage regional rivalries. From the West Coast, San Antonio will only play Sacramento, Timbers 2, Real Monarchs, and Vancouver once. Those games are all away from Toyota Field, except Vancouver. The team does play OC Blues and Los Dos (Los Angeles Galaxy II) home and away. San Antonio will also play Swope Park and Arizona three times as well.
Some interesting notes about the schedule for San Antonio:
San Antonio will have to start regular season play on the road, not an easy task, especially for a new team. They will also have to play four of their first five games on the road. It's an tough, early start for head coach Powell and his team, who have yet to sign any players.
Expect to see a team name and crest announcement soon, along with player signings.
You can download USL San Antonio's full 2016 schedule below:
The USL announced today that the 2016 season will comprise of 29 total teams separated into two conferences. The Eastern Conference will have 14 teams, including newcomers Bethlehem Steel FC, Orlando City B, and FC Cincinnati. The Western Conference will add Rio Grande Valley FC, San Antonio, and Swope Park Rangers, totaling 15 teams.
The 2016 USL season kicks off on March 25th and ends on September 25th with each team playing 30 regular-season matches. The team with the most combined points across both conferences will win the USL Regular Season Title. The playoffs will include 8 teams from each conference that will battle in a single-elimination tournament to determine who will take home the USL Cup. The Cup will be played between the conference champions.
The 2016 playoffs will include more teams than it did in 2015, up from 12 to 16. This should give San Antonio a better shot at making the playoffs in their inaugural season. The club has yet to announce any player signings, and with the season starting in just over two months, it will be a challenge for coach Powell in his first season in the Alamo City.
UPDATE: Scheduling will be interesting for 2016. With 15 teams, the West could play each other home & away for a total of 28 games + 2 games vs East teams. This leaves the East teams with an unbalanced schedule with only 14 teams - 26 games in-conference + 4 vs the West. The league could just make the regular season an intraconference schedule + two extra games vs regional rivals. For San Antonio this would probably look like three games vs RGV FC and OKC or Tulsa. This would mean that San Antonio would not play ANY Eastern Conference opponent unless they reach the USL Cup Final.
The schedule will be release next Tuesday, January 26th at 12pm CST. Expect a club name announcement before then.
p.s. If you're confused about the coloring of the states on the map, you're not alone.
At an announcement at Toyota Field today, the USL, North America's 3rd division, formally announced that San Antonio would join the league and begin play in 2016. The Spurs Sports & Entertainment organization (SS&E) will operate the team out of Toyota Field, now co-owned by the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and SS&E.
The yet-to-be-named team will begin USL play when the league season starts in late March of this year. The team name & crest will be revealed later in January, per USL San Antonio. Also announced today was Darren Powell, the first head coach in club history. Powell comes from Orlando City SC's academy program and has already begun the process of identifying potential team players.
San Antonio will immediately have regional rivalries with Rio Grande Valley FC in Edinburg, TX and possibly the Austin Aztex, who are currently on hiatus and won't play in 2016. Surprise guests in attendance included representatives from the OKC Energy. They, along with the Tulsa Roughnecks, are the closest out-of-state teams to San Antonio and definitely have the potential to become a close rival of the Alamo City faithful.
This year looks to be a very exciting one as we introduce a new team to our city and play new clubs throughout the year!
The yet-to-be-named San Antonio USL team, owned by the Spurs Sports & Entertainment group, will formally be announced on Thursday as a USL expansion franchise by the league and will reveal the teams first head coach in club history. Reports coming from Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel say San Antonio's first head coach will be former Orlando City SC academy coach, Darren Powell.
Powell was the head coach of the Elon University Men's Soccer team for 9 years. During his tenure there he led the team to two Southern Conference championships and three conference tournament championships. His last three years also included consecutive trips to the NCAA Division I tournament, reaching the 2nd Round in 2013. He left Elon to join Orlando City SC in April of 2014 to help coach in their U.S. Soccer Development Academy. A few of his former Elon players who are in MLS include GK Clint Irwin of the Colorado Rapids and D Steven Kinney, who just recently had his option declined by the Chicago Fire.
Powell will definitely have his hands full in his first season with San Antonio. The USL season begins in just over 2 & 1/2 months and the club has yet to announce the name and crest, let alone any players. His work with youth in Orlando and young players in college will be an asset that San Antonio needs to leverage.
We would like to welcome Coach Powell to San Antonio! We're excited for this new era of soccer in the Alamo City to begin!
San Antonio FC & the USL
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