(Photo courtesy of NASL.com)
In the Fall season opener and in front of a crowd of 7,651, the San Antonio Scorpions blew an early three-goal lead and were crushed 7-4 by the Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday at Toyota Field.
Ahead 3-0 after only 18 minutes (Hans Denissen on the 3rd and 16th, and Polish new signing Tomasz Zahorski on the 18th), the Scorpions were on fire and offering the best opening 30 minutes in its two-year history. In spite of the goal difference, the Scorpions continued attacking with four and five men and the only reason more goals weren't scored was three superb saves by Rowdies goalie Diego Restrepo.
However, the Scorpions all but disappeared soon after Tampa Bay's Luke Mullholland scored on the 31st minute during an isolated play. From then on, it was all for the Rowdies, who were able to score in quick succession and take the first half by an unbelievable 4-3.
In spite of a great 79th minute goal by Zahorski (his second in the game) that put the score 4-5 and seemed to indicate a Scorpions comeback, the Rowdies quickly scored their six on the 85th minute via Etienne Barbara off a rebound. The cherry on the pie for the Rowdies (and the last nail in the coffin for a disastrous Scorpions defense) came during stoppage time, with an unnecessary Phelan foul at the verge of the box and an unexplainable Husic handball during the subsequent free-kick. The penalty was superbly taken by Georgie Hristov, sealing the 7-4 score for the visitors.
If there is a team that has shown resilience and ability to come from defeat and reach the last game of any season with chances of winning the championship, it's the Scorpions. The new season just started and there are 13 games left. But the most alarming thing about this crushing defeat is that, for the first time, the Scorpions didn't show the team's trademark: its fighting spirit. They got relaxed and lost concentration after the Rowdies showed signs of a comeback, and were mentally dominated for most of the game. Let us hope it was just a bad night and not a sign of deeper problems.
On the brighter side: if the Scorpions' can play this bad and still score four goals, I'd like to think there is hope for the team, provided the defense is awake (especially Luka Vucko, who is usually a solid defender but on this game he seemed either injured or completely out of shape).
Here's a summary of the scoring:
1-0: Hans Denissen (3')
2-0: Denissen (16')
3-0: Tomasz Zahorski (18')
3-1: Luke Mulholland (25')
3-2: Keith Savage (32')
3-3: Evans Frimpong (42')
3-4: Amani Walker (45')
3-5: Georgi Hristov (67')
4-5: Tomasz Zahorski (79')
4-6: Etienne Barbara (85')
4-7: Hristov (90') (Penalty Kick)