Tim Hankinson has been relieved of coaching duties for the San Antonio Scorpions after a poor start in the Spring Season and 4 straight losses in the Fall Season. Alen Marcina has taken over as the Interim Head Coach as the Scorpions commence a worldwide search” for the next head coach of the team. Marcina was Hankinson’s assistant coach since before the 2012 season when the Scorpions were founded. He played professionally in Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Montreal, Vancouver, Minnesota, Rochester and Miami before trying his hand at coaching. According to their website, San Antonio Scorpions only have two coaches currently on staff: Alen Marcina as the Head Coach and Juan Lamadrid as the Goalkeeper Coach.
I remember the first time I even thought it was a possibility. I stood in the Beer Garden at Toyota Field with half of the stadium as we watched the Scorpions fall to FC Tuscon in PK’s in the 2nd round of the US Open Cup. A small chant of “Sack The Coach” rang out from several of the fans as they expressed their clear disappointment of the Scorpions Head Coach Tim Hankinson.
After the embarrassment in the Open Cup, the Scorpions went on to win 5 of their last 6 games finishing 3rd in the Spring Season. Things looked good for the Scorpions. Everyone’s high hopes at the beginning of the season have returned. People across the league and online talked about the Scorpions being possible challengers for the Fall Season Championship. The first game looked as if everyone’s expectations were accurate. 20 minutes into the first game against the Tampa Bay Rowdies the Scorpions scored 3 goals. The next 70 minutes could very well have been foreshadowing for the future of Hankinson in San Antonio. 7 goals were scored by the Rowdies and no one had any idea what had happened. After the loss to the Rowdies, the Scorpions went on to lose the next 3 games and Hankinson is now out of a job.
After hearing the news of Hankinson’s firing, I thought up a few possibilities for who could fill the coaching position for the Scorpions.
1. John Spencer
Former forward for clubs like Chelsea, Everton, Motherwell, and Rangers, John Spencer retired after the 2004 season and decided to try his hands at coaching. Spencer served as an assistant coach with the Houston Dynamo as he worked under head coach Dominic Kinnear. He served under Kinnear in the years that the Dynamo won back-to-back MLS Cup Championships in 2006 and 2007. Spencer also served as the Dyanmo Reserves and led the squad to the 2008 MLS Reserve Division Championship. In 2010, Spencer was named the Portland Timbers’ first MLS Head Coach. Under his leadership, the Timbers won their first 5 home games and finished just on the outside edge of playoffs in the club’s inaugural MLS season. Spencer was let go in July 2012 after the Timbers had a slow start to their season. John Spencer is not working a a head coach in professional soccer at the moment but with him in San Antonio, it could lead to a connection with the Houston Dynamo and opening doors for loans and possibly exhibition games in San Antonio. A signing of a passionate head coach, like Spencer, would be the positive step the Scorpions want if they want to compete in the NASL.
2. Javier Saavedra
I know that he’s currently playing for the Scorpions but his career is nearly finished and he has an interest in coaching in mind. Last season, while he was still playing, he coached the Scorpions reserves squad who often scrimmaged local universities. Saavedra may not be the ideal choice but he’s familiar with the staff, the players, the fans, and the local talent in the area. San Antonio could be a great place for him to retire as a player and go into coaching.
3. Eric Wynalda
Eric Wynalda is pretty well known around the NASL. He knows the teams, he knows the places, and he knows the system. Could San Antonio have a chance to get Wynalda as the next head coach? Wynalda was the head coach for Cal FC since 2012. His side reached the 4th round of the US Open Cup as they upset the USL Pro Wilmington Hammerheads 4-0 and the MLS’ Portland Timbers 1-0. Cal FC’s victory over the Timbers made them the first-ever USASA side to beat an MLS side, as well as the first amateur side to beat an MLS one without needing penalty kicks. It stands as the biggest upset in the tournament’s history. Wynalda then went to work as interim head coach of the Atlanta Silverbacks and after the season was finished, stayed on board as a team adviser for the club. He also has been working as an analyst for Fox Soccer Channel but has expressed interest in a head coaching position. One would assume he would be looking for a place at the head of a MLS side but if Gordon Hartman is willing to front the money, I think Wynalda would be willing to lead the Scorpions.
4. Lance Noble
Head Coach of Alamo SC in the USL Super 20 league. He’s a local coach who, in their first season, led Alamo SC to being the Mid South Division Champions. Noble helped consult with Hankinson during the open tryouts and led the Alamo SC to being ranked 10th in North America in the USL Super 20 league. He’s a local coach who may be on the radar for the position but it’s just an outside chance. He’s been great on a small level and it may be a strange change for him on a larger stage.