What is the identity of San Antonio FC

At the end of last season, I said on the S.A. Soccer Roundtable Podcast (that typically airs Tuesday nights) this would be the most important offseason in SAFC’s history.  And going into its 5th season, there have been some ups and downs.  So, let’s take a look at the short history of SAFC to see where we are today.

On a warm Jan. 7, 2016, Mr. Jake Edwards welcomed San Antonio FC as the 31st USL franchise and Darren Powell was introduced to the media and the two Supporter Groups Crocketteers and Mission City Firm 118.    At the announcement it was no secret that MLS was the focus of San Antonio FC and Spurs Sports and Entertainment (SS&E). 

It looked like SAFC was well on the way to MLS, and supporters were told to “Trust the Process.”  However, much like today the behind-the-scenes process was kept very silent and out of the public eye.  San Antonio was chosen as one of the 12 possible expansion cities. Most “soccer insiders” had San Antonio as one the favorites to receive an MLS expansion bid.  However, Anthony Precourt and Don Garber had already agreed to the “Austin Clause,” which changed the MLS opportunity for San Antonio. Austin FC was born and San Antonio FC was left to pick up the pieces.  Many have wondered aloud if San Antonio – specifically SS&E – had been more public with its bid if that could have possibly helped fight what was probably a losing battle, but in the end, it seems like SS&E just took a back seat to Austin.  

  On the field San Antonio has made the playoffs one time in 2017 as the second seed, but lost in PKs to Oklahoma City Energy FC.   Since that loss, San Antonio FC has won 26, tied 17 and lost 25 and missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. After the 2019 season, Coach Powell was let go and SAFC promoted Alen Marcina after 32 days. Which leads me to my question:

WHAT IS THE IDENTITY OF SAN ANTONIO FC?

If you look at the history of clubs that have the generic FC name, there generally is a nickname that develops.  However, I think with SAFC and more important Spurs Sports and Entertainment that is really challenging since they are so vanilla as an organization.   SAFC talks about “character, family and community,” which all are great, but name a team that does not say that or want to have all of its players have that background.  

Look at other USL organizations.  Take Phoenix Rising, for example, that has grown from the Food City era to where they are today.  Phoenix Rising won 20 matches in a row in 2019, but fell short in the playoffs, and have they accepted those results? Hell no!  They have taken top players from Orange County SC, New Mexico United, and of course, the annual San Antonio FC player (Love you Sam Doerr).

I have dubbed them the “Evil Empire of the Desert” and that triggered a response from one of the Rising owners, David Rappaport, on Twitter: “if it’s evil to do everything in your power to win every game…. Guilty.”   That’s the kind of ownership I wish SAFC had. The SAFC’s Communications team does a great job, but when you have organizations like Phoenix and New Mexico United – whose owner Mr. Peter Trevisani attended tailgates hosted by the Crocketteers and MCF when his team played in San Antonio with the New Mexico United supporters group The Curse – shows what SAFC is missing from SS&E.

As a fan and supporter of the club, it would be nice to see SS&E take the gloves off of SAFC and let them shine.  Soccer is about passion on and off the pitch. What works for Coach Pop and the Spurs does not work for San Antonio FC. As an organization it’s time to let the players interact with the fans.  Open the practices up, let the fans see the friendlies if playing a professional team. If they don’t, it could severely impact SAFC’s future, because as unpopular as it is, Austin FC is coming and the average fan – if given a chance to decide – may go up the road and see the best players in the U.S. and possibly the world.  Or will San Antonio FC finally develop an identity that will make them stand out? In four complete seasons you should not have fans who still think it’s the SA Scorpions that play at Toyota Field. With UTSA football and the Spurs going through struggles, NOW is the perfect time for SAFC to go for it on the pitch and make the 2020 season a special one.  

It’s time to find an identity for this club.  It has two great supporter groups that would love to help take it to the top of USL, but they need more support and freedom from the club.  We need a club that will have more interaction with its fans and supporters groups.  

I believe San Antonio FC can reclaim its spot as the top club in all of Texas, including MLS clubs, and one of the leaders in USL on and off the pitch.   It’s time to make San Antonio a destination place to where players want to come and – more importantly – want to stay!  

My goal for 2020 is to develop an identity for the club and hopefully see Section 118 filled with Crocketteers and Mission City Firm having players go bang the drums after goals and wins at Toyota Field!!!  We want a USL Championship next November!!!  

Thank you to Steve Arters and Chris Hockman on helping me with the piece

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