The 100 Year Mission: a History of Soccer in San Antonio

Humans have historically felt the impulse to celebrate eras. The Hindus marked long periods of time at every 60 years. The Aztecs went with 52 year intervals. We in the west settled on 100 back in the day and it has since become a cultural standard: 100 yrds in American football; 100¢ in a dollar; 100°C boiling point of water; the centennial. U.S. Soccer recently celebrated theirs with a highly crowd-pleasing anniversary kit. This year, down in Texas, a similar, more localized milestone is being laid. 

Follow along using our “match report” as we review San Antonio’s brightest soccer moments of the last 100 years. Graphic by Daniel Rubio.
In 1915, the San Antonio Order of Scottish Clans, in cooperation with the University of Texas soccer team, founded for practice purposes the earliest recorded soccer organization. Ten years after its emergence, the movement would receive an auxiliary boost when local baseball boss, Harry Ables, and T.J. Warhurst, coach of the ethnically eclectic San Antonio Internationals, worked together in bringing the Alamo City the San Antonio Soccer Football Association. Mexican-American support was strong enough to support yet another league, the San Antonio Soccer League, eventually attracting competition from several auspicious gulf coast clubs, in turn further extending the S.A.S.L.’s prominence. The league performed well into the late ’30s and succeeded in winning over locals until it’s eventual dissolution. 

 Jump to 1975. The ’68 World’s Fair was a fresh memory, NBA fever abounded with the arrival of the Spurs just two years prior, and the buzz of the ’74 World Cup left Texans wanting more. Cue Thunder. With the Golden Era NASL running at the height of its popularity, a franchise was granted to San Antonio. The Thunder could best be described as a candle burning twice as bright in that although the club only lasted two years before being rebranded in Hawaii, it boasted ambitious assets such as the impressive Alamo Stadium and 1966 World Cup winner and England captain, Bobby Moore(on loan from Fulham F.C.), among its squad.

 It would be three long and sober decades before the soccer gods would send another benediction. This godsend would come in 2009 in the form of NPSL side Corinthians F.C. S.A., who have recently, and perhaps most poetically, adopted a resurrected Alamo Stadium as their new home pitch. This may well have inspired San Antonio’s next landmark to reclaiming professional soccer glory: Scorpions F.C. Founded in 2010, the Modern Era NASL club struck immediate success, earning the 2012 Woosnam Cup in only its first year of play. Two seasons and one brand new stadium later, Scorpions added the 2014 Fall Season championship shield to their collection after defeating New York Cosmos 2-1 at home. S.A. returned to Toyota Field to reprise the result when they beat Fort Lauderdale Strikers and won their first Soccer Bowl championship, the highest honor ever achieved by a San Antonio club. 

Nearly 65,000 attended the USA vs Mexico friendly. 04-15-2015, Alamodome, San Antonio, TX, USA. Photo by Erik Gomez.
 As U.S. Soccer’s centenary continues to pass us by, it’s only fitting that the transition from one hundredth to the next is marked by the holiest of American soccer holies: dos a cero. San Antonio offered itself for this hallowed occasion, and with it its legacy. During the 15 April friendly, U.S. and Mexico supporters alike rejoiced in the sanctified sport. But with more NASL bowls and shields up for grabs and the ever-omnipotent MLS positively in reach, the next celebration is sure to be 💯.

The Throw-In:

Glimpse of pro-soccer’s return in mid-90s San Antonio with S.A. Pumas.

Where you there? Think we missed any key details or events? Contribute to this article using the comments section below!

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