1. Everyone knows that San Antonio has MLS aspirations, what needs to happen? What are the odds?
Kevin Collins - At this point in the process, it's really up to the fans in San Antonio and MLS. We meet MLS' criteria: we have a stadium, we have an owner with plenty of money, and we have an established fan base. In 4 years with the Scorpions, average attendance was ~7,415. 2012 was played in the larger Heroes Stadium with ~9,176 average and the 3 years in Toyota Field they averaged ~6,828. Continuing to attend games and showing that there is a soccer market in San Antonio is important. Aside from that, MLS will need to determine if they want to expand to the Alamo City. Toyota Field can be expanded to MLS standards, all that is needed is a vote for approval of funds, which should pass easily. The Spurs aren't likely to expand Toyota Field unless they are awarded an MLS franchise, though.
Odds are pretty good that it will happen...eventually. Spurs Sports & Entertainment was tasked by the city and county to bring MLS to SA. They have a financial incentive to do so, so they'll be making their case to MLS. There does seem to be a consensus among the soccer community that we are right behind Sacramento Republic in terms of "MLS readiness". The emergence of St. Louis though may postpone a San Antonio entry if MLS wills it enough.
2. What are the fans like? Would it be a good road trip for SPR supporters?
Kevin - San Antonio fans are passionate about all of their city's teams, and SAFC is no different! We don't see many traveling supporters since there aren't many teams near us though. Our nearest opponent in the NASL was Atlanta (at 1,003 miles!) and only last year did we see the Austin Aztex fans for a friendly and our Open Cup match. I think seeing more traveling support would add to the atmosphere at Toyota Field and make it that much more fun for the fans! C'mon down!
3.What can SPR expect from San Antonio? Will it be high offense or a defensive battle?
Kevin - Despite the scoreline from our opening match, SPR can expect a defensive battle in San Antonio. We have a lot of depth in our back line, whereas our attack is less mature. Jason Johnson will be the main target for any attack. They'll want to get more players involved in scoring though. Coach Powell seemingly likes to use his wing players a lot by sending in crosses as the focal point of the attack. Accuracy and finishing off those crosses is an area of opportunity for improvement for SA. Definitely a winnable game for San Antonio if they are locked-in. Should be a good match!
Kevin Collins asked these questions about Swope Park:
1. What has been the fan response to Swope Park? Are supporters mainly SKC cross-overs? Or is it attracting a different supporter demographic?
Thad Bell - With only one home game so far (and SKC season ticket members received free tickets) it is a little hard to tell. It appears that SPR's fan base will be a mix. Some SKC fans for sure, some that were priced out of regular season tickets and some that will just be SPR fans. Another bonus for SPR is that they play on opposite side of the city, Children's Mercy Park is in the north west corner and Swope Park is more central east so fans on the east side will have a closer option for games.
2. How is success defined for Marc Dos Santos? Players that move to MLS? Or league titles?
Thad - Dos Santos job is not easy, he has several mandates. Provide a spot for first team players to get time when needed, have a supply of players ready to be called up and help develop Sporting Academy players. On top of all that is to have a winning culture. It might be okay to not win all the titles but it will not be okay to have a poor record at all.
3. Swope Park's attack seems strong, all 4 of the goals scored this season have come from different players. San Antonio fans will be familiar with former Scorpion Tyrpak, who/what makes this attack effective?
Thad - You are right, they are capable of spreading it around for sure. First take a look at how they were prepared, Swope Park will play a style that closely resembles Sporting KC. A base 4-3-3 that presses hard to create turnovers. Having the close ties to the first team was a big attraction for several players (and Dos Santos). All-time leading USL scorer Dane Kelly, Kris Tyrpak and several others came for that very reason. Those experienced players were bolstered with young talent also looking for opportunities like Kevin Oliveira . Add on two Sporting Academy signings, 18 year-old Nansel Selbol and 19 year-old Daniel Salloi (on loan from SKC) have both scored off the bench already this year.
The team has a clear style/method of play from the first team and they follow it, attracted talent and Dos Santos built the team to play for each other. They should be a fun team to watch offensively.