Photo: Robin Jerstad, San Antonio Scorpions
The San Antonio Scorpions played in their first ever US Open Cup game against the Laredo Heat of the PDL in the Second Round of the 2012 edition, and they won 2-0 to advance to face the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer.
Fielding a surprisingly full strength line up, the Scorpions went for it early, with Pablo Campos nearly capitalizing on a Laredo mistake but his header was much too light. The Scorpions were sloppy early on, far too often giving the ball away in the opening 15 minutes as they struggled to string things together.
In the 21st minute, Walter Ramirez had a good chance from distance after being put in to space by Hans Dennison, but his shot was high and wide. In the 24th minute Laredo had a great chance when Juan Nava was left wide open on the far post but sent it just wide.
In the 25th minute things all went wrong for the Scorpions as Walter Ramirez went in for a header with Carlos Ordaz but ended up getting it all wrong and was shown a straight red card for a heavy body charge. “Everything changes,” said Scorpions defender Wes Knight, “but it’s adversity like that which makes a great team.”
The Scorpions almost got in front in the 28th minute as Campos found space in the box, but his curling shot went narrowly wide. The Scorpions had a good chance in the 43rd minute after some neat team work that played Dennison through on the right, but Emmanuel Frias came out well and claimed the ball, denying the four advancing Scorpions the opportunity. The Scorpions surged in stoppage time and had a great opportunity as Dennison sent in a corner for Ryan Cochrane, who got away a diving header but couldn’t find the target as the half ended scoreless.
The Scorpions were handed a lifeline in the 47th minute when Laredo player Adan Villanueva brought down Pablo Campos when he was clean through, forcing the referee to pull out another red card. Unfortunately for the Scorpions, they were unable to convert the free kick, sailing it over the bar. Kevin Harmse reflected, “I thought [the red card] hurt them more than it hurt us. We were looking to play a block of eight (four midfielders and four defenders) so we felt comfortable.”
The Scorpions had a penalty shout in the 58th denied but the referee correctly called that it was a 50-50 challenge and awarded a goal kick. On the hour mark, Hans Dennison put Pablo Campos through in the box and Campos squared the ball but was unable to find anyone as the chance went away. In the 65th minute Wes Knight was found on the right and he sent in a wonderful cross in to a crowd that was cleared by Laredo.
Photo: Robin Jerstad, San Antonio Scorpions
In the 67th minute the Scorpions had the lead as Wes Knight sent the ball in again, finding Jonathan Greenfield who sent the ball on for Pablo Campos, who bundled the ball over the line. The Scorpions doubled their lead in the 74th minute when Hans Dennison put Kevin Harmse into space, allowing him to shoot low and hard and send it past Frias.
Laredo went down to nine men in the 77th minute when Juan Nava reacted poorly to a challenge and fought with his defender, earning a second yellow card and then throwing his shoes off and into the ground in frustration. Just one minute later Knight again sent in a wonderful cross, finding Pablo Campos whose header was solid but came off the bar.
Laredo showed little intent late on as the Scorpions eventually cruised to the 2-0 victory despite a nervous first half and will advance to face the Houston Dynamo.
Scorpions head coach Tim Hankinson was not entirely satisfied after the match. “I was disappointed we didn’t come out of the blocks faster and that red card…. there was no intent to play the man, so I thought it was a harsh call… we got lucky that they didn’t take advantage after the red.”
Kevin Harmse thought it was a tough game. “Whenever you have these games you fight hard and then after the red card… which I thought was a bit soft, but we played much better in the second half.” Wes Knight is seeking to get back to MLS in 2013 and was pleased. “Anything that gets you on the radar is great, but when you get there you have to perform.”
The Houston Dynamo will travel to Heroes Stadium in San Antonio for a 7:30pm kick off on Tuesday, May 29.
Chris Hockman is a freelance writer who also covers the sport for SanAntonioSoccerNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisomni