Another week, another game, and another brand new opponent for the Orange County Blues. This time around, the Blues will host new USL side San Antonio FC. In order to get caught up on the happenings in San Antonio, we talk to Kyle Mahnke of San Antonio FC blog Pitch Black News. Many thanks to Kyle for taking the time to answer my questions!
The Goat Parade asks Pitch Black News:
1. San Antonio FC is one of the new kids on the block in USL this year. How was the process of building a team from scratch, and what have the first several games been like in SAFC's history?
From everything that's been revealed to the public, forming a team from scratch and putting them into league to play three months later was just as hectic as expected. The experience and networking connections shared between director Tim Holt and head coach Darren Powell combined with the powerful machine that is Spurs Sports and Entertainment helped tremendously, but time has always been their biggest opponent.
The first few games have been successful by all accounts, though there have been some growing pains. A 3-0 dismantling of S2 followed by 1-1 draws with Swope Park Rangers and LA Galaxy II have SAFC in the top half of the table, but Coach Powell is known for demanding perfection. The first and only home game so far was against Swope Park and was absolutely rocking. More than 8,400 attended, pushing Toyota Field to standing room only and breaking the all-time attendance record for the soccer specific stadium.
2. A lot has happened in a short time in San Antonio soccer, from the NASL's Scorpions folding to the establishment of San Antonio FC and very public ambitions for an eventual move to MLS. What has the feeling been like among local soccer fans overall to all these developments, and what's your hunch at this point -- will San Antonio enter MLS one day?
By the time last season ended, many local fans were angry and frustrated with how the Scorpions franchise was being run. We want a high quality, authentic soccer environment in San Antonio and with a limited budget and wacky sponsorship deals, we weren't getting that with the Scorpions.
If there's one thing that unites all of San Antonio its the Spurs. No matter the background, income level, age, or race, everyone loves the Spurs organization. Its more than a basketball team. The organization is more a part of the community than the Alamo or Riverwalk.
With that in mind, the change has been overwhelmingly positive for the vast majority of soccer fans. A soccer team run by Spurs Sports and Entertainment would be popular enough, but the aggressiveness with which they're pursuing MLS is encouraging to fans.
The biggest obstacle to MLS in SA is our neighbors to the north, Austin. It seems like MLS wants a footprint in South/Central Texas, but being less than 80 miles apart it's unlikely that both cities will get franchises. While San Antonio is "checking all the boxes," we all know MLS is going to do whatever they want in regards to expansion. I think SA will win out, but I foresee MLS at least scouting Austin more closely before realizing what a challenge it would be compared to the Alamo City.
3. I imagine some readers will be interested in Carlos Alvarez, from East LA and a former Chivas USA player. How is he doing so far with San Antonio? Does he seem like a core player for the new team?
Carlos Alvarez was the first player signing announced by the club and has been one of the "faces of the franchise" since. He's started as the central attacking midfielder in each of SAFC's matches so far and has improved in each appearance.
He helped create a number of chances for winger Danny Garcia in SAFC's home opener and eventually got an assist dishing it to Garcia for the club's first home goal. He had a dream performance when SAFC went back to his hometown (well...Carson) to play Los Dos, scoring a late equalizer in front of several family members who were in attendance.
While its still a little early to tell how big of a role he will play this season, I can't imagine him out of the Starting XI anytime soon and he's absolutely been a key player in creating offensive chances.
(Bonus) Prediction for Saturday's game?
I have to assume Coach Powell is getting pretty sick of draws. I think the back four will be more settled coming off a quick turnaround having played Los Dos on Wednesday. Maybe this leads to a clean sheet for SAFC. On the attacking side of the ball, we'll see if Stoke City loanee Bobby Moseley can recreate some of the magic he, Alvarez, and midfielder Rafa Castillo shared in the home opener. I'm guessing OC 0-2 SA, but I'm sure the OC squad is hungry to get their season back on track at home.
If you'd like to hear me discuss the OC Blues, tune into the Pitch Black podcast this week.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!