USL Roundup: Spurs ownership Group approved, Rhinos owners out, more

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

This past week has been one of the more newsworthy USL offseason periods in quite some time. Not only are there huge shakeups behind the scenes but players are also moving which will have a significant impact on teams going into the 2016 season.

While much of it is extremely exciting, there is a level of trepidation as the situation with Rochester shows once again just how fragile the American soccer lower divisions can be.

San Antonio Officially in for 2016

Probably the worst kept secret in American soccer has been confirmed. SS&E has finally been awarded a USL franchise. The NBA Spurs ownership group will be the thirty-first USL franchise and play in Toyota Field where the NASL San Antonio Scorpions played from 2013 to 2015.

The most remarkable part of the story is that the team will play in the 2016 season.

SS&E is the second NBA ownership group in the USL behind Reno’s Herb Simon, part owner of the Indiana Pacers. The club’s name and badge will be revealed in the coming weeks as well as information on coaching staff and players.

With less than ninety days until kickoff in the 2016 USL season, the fast inclusion of San Antonio will be an interesting situation to follow.

Rochester Looks for New Ownership

Word came in late Tuesday night that the USL took control of the 2015 Champion Rochester Rhinos. Adirondack Sports Club had failed to make payments earlier in the year to the city of Rochester who leased Sahlen’s Stadium to the team. After the notice was given that the lease would not be renewed, owner Rob Clark decided it was best to move on from the team, relinquishing ownership to the league.

While there are still many questions about the future of the Rhinos, we know for sure that they will be playing in the 2016 season and that the city of Rochester is very much interested in preserving one of the longest running clubs in North American soccer history. News on the team will continue to develop over the coming weeks as preseason gets under way shortly.

FC Cincinnati to Spar with the Big Boys

From their head coach to their ambitious plans, everything about FC Cincinnati has been big. The team burst onto the scene with their own unique identity and minced no words with their desire to elevate themselves to an MLS level.

That mindset continued with the hiring of US Soccer legend John Harkes as the team’s first head coach. Now their preseason schedule look to mirror that of a major club as the team travels to Iceland to battle NYCFC in February.

The team will play three different sides during their seven day trip playing the aforementioned NYCFC as well as KR Reykjavik and HB Koge. It will be the first real action FC Cincinnati has seen and a telling sign of the direction we should come to expect from Harkes heading into their inaugural season.

Players Making Moves

There have been several key moves this offseason in the USL, with the most recent being an attacking addition to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Former Tampa Bay Rowdies and New York Red Bull forward Corey Hertzog makes the move to a Riverhounds team that was second in goal scoring in 2015. Whether another forward is what Pittsburgh needed to push them over the top remains to be seen. However, it is a move that solidifies one of the most potent offenses in the USL in the coming year.

Meanwhile Colin Rolfe switches conferences as he joins the Real Monarchs SLC from the champion Rochester Rhinos. Rolfe had six goals last season and was a pivotal player in making the Rhinos a nearly undefeated championship side. This pick-up gives the Monarchs a much needed jolt on offense as the side scored the second fewest goals in the Western Conference last season.

Darren Powell Potential San Antonio Coach

Orlando City SC development academy coach Darren Powell is rumored to be moving into the new head coaching spot at San Antonio, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

This will be Powell’s first professional head coaching position, a trend not uncommon to San Antonio. The Scorpions head coach Alen Marcina, who won an NASL Championship with San Antonio in 2014, was also a rookie coach before taking over at Toyota Field.

SS&E has expressed interest in the development of young players as they seek a potential move to MLS in the not too distant future. Bringing in Powell would be considered a strong move as he has familiarity with development programs in Orlando as well as in the college system.

The new USL franchise will be moving quickly to field a team for the 2016, a mere ninety days from starting. They will be joined by fellow Texas side Rio Grande Valley Toros, Swope Park Rangers, Bethlehem Steel FC and Orlando City B in a very packed league.


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  • Anonymous

    Powell was already announced as the S.A. head coach yesterday and spoke at the press conference. I know it was easy to miss, it was only on youtube, nobody ever watches that site.

  • Cosmo

    How about the name of San Antonio River city sc/fc or San Antonio lonestars

    So as for expansion we know that MLS will go for 28 teams but that’s means only 2 spots for for east and west, and the list keeps getting longer.
    In the west you have Sacramento, San Diego, Phoenix, San Antonio, Austin and probably okc.
    In the east you have st.louis, Charlotte, Raleigh, Detroit, and probably another Florida city and Ohio.
    If you ask me, I would take San Diego and Austin with their proper soccer stadium location and in the east st.louis with Charlotte.
    That’s 28, leaving 4 more spots to hit 32.

  • Joe the Plumber

    Very funny how the Don , said a couple of years ago that mls would not follow the NASL with 26 teams….

  • johnson

    the east also has Indy11 who are dying to get up to MLS and out of nasl, it will be another + for MLS and negative hit to nasl

  • Anonymous

    Actually Indy isn’t “dying” to get to MLS at all – They also have a better chance at being in a D1 league by staying in the NASL who’s short term goal is to be a D1 league alongside the Mls in a few short years.

  • Anonymous

    An error in the article – San Antonio Scorpions joined NASL for the 2012 season, not the 2013 season.

    Feel sorry for the SA Scorpion fans, many who’ve expressed disappointment that the Scorpions are gone and the City will be stuck with a third division team in Mls’s farm team affiliate league.

  • I’m Not Anonymous

    Said anonymous, without credibility


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