Toyota Field – The San Antonio Scorpions finished the rough Spring Season going 3-2-1 over their final six games. The heavy turnover in the roster created issues in developing chemistry during the opening season which, despite the improved late play, placed the club 7th in the NASL standings. July is closing in quick and the Scorpions have little time to prepare for the fall. An international friendly against visiting Club Sport Cartaginés would prove to be a necessary tune-up for the defending 2014 NASL champions.
Both teams were not without their chances on goal in the first half. Within the first minute, a Gentile cross to Billy Forbes went just right of the bar. Omar Cummings later finished off a great cross from Forbes in the 14th minute but was unfortunately negated by the linesman. The Scorpions had several possessions in the Cartaginés penalty box but was never able to create a shot on target.In the 32nd minute, Cummings had a clean look at loose ball in the penalty arc but Cartaginés keeper Alejandro Gomez closed right on time of Omar’s shot to send back out the endline.
Cartaginés initially attacked the Scorpions defense by stretching them out on the long cross and through passes but later shortened the game up after a few San Antonio counter attempts. Brenes fired a long lead to Ronchett, who was one-on-one with Adrian Cann. Cann lost Ronchetti in the middle of the penalty box, leading Ronchetti to fire a rocket from 17 yards out. Fortunately for keeper Matt Cardone and the Scoprions, the shot sailed high.
Fabrizio Ronchetti of Cartaginés got free on a pair of runs around the 19th minute but sent both wide from 20 yards out. Ronchetti almost earned himself an assist of a beautiful cross left over the penalty box but, like most of the shots during the match, the shot was well off target.
The first half featured plenty of long leads and crosses in front of the goal but it was also laden with yellow cards. Both teams drew the yellow, with the Scorpions’ Monbo Bokar and Adrian Cann both earning theirs on hard, mistimed tackles. Cartaginés’ Kevin Vega, Carlos Johnson, and Juan Gabriel Guzman drew the yellow for their side.
The lone goal in the match came at the 50th minute off an auspicious cross ricochet to Cartaginés’ Randall Brenes. Brenes headed in the goal after a 30 yard bullet bounced down in the front of the goal box. The Costa Rican Primera División team almost doubled their lead four minutes later after a Brenes cross to Ronchetti into the goal box barely missed its target.
The Scorpions put on the pressure soon after. Billy Forbes snuck out wide from the defenders, leading Josue Soto to land a perfect cross to a Forbes shot from 12 yards out. Cartaginés keeper Alejandro Gomez deflected the shot out for a corner. The closest the Scorpions ever came to equalizing the match came from rookie Monbo Bokar, who was making his professional debut. In the 61st minute, an off-target cross found its way to Bokar. Bokar’s shot bounced off the left post but right back to the rookie. Bokar’s second attempt went wide right.
Omar Cummings had a long 30 yard attempt of a counter attack that sailed in the 65th minute. Giuseppe Gentile made his first appearance back in San Antonio while on loan from FC Chiasso. Giuseppe had a golden opportunity in the 68th minute when a cross found him alone just ten yards out from the goal. However, Giuseppe couldn’t control the ball and had to move it out after the defender closed in. The last true shot of the night came from substitute Zourab Tsiskaridze, who launched a 25 yarder over the top of the defense but right into the arms of the keeper.
While the loss was obviously not satisfactory, coach Alen Marcina was happy with the team objectives set in the Fall Season tune-up. “Getting numbers forward, creating those opportunism,” said Marcina. “If we’re not creating opportunities, then there are issues. But we created opportunities and we have guys that can put the ball in the back of the net. Sometimes it’s just short and sometimes it’s just confidence. We said it last year and feel the same this year, it’s just a matter of time before open up the back of the goal.”
Gentille echoed his coach’s goals. “Stretching the defense was a very important one,” said the 22 year-old forward. “Running behind and creating space for my teammates. That’s a big aspect we have been focusing on. And while they want me to be here, that’s what they’re looking for out of me. Just to bring that energy and obviously put my chances away.”
The Scorpions Fall Season begins on July 11th in Fort McMurray where the red and black will take on the FC Edmonton.