Credit: David Flores / Kens5.com
New Scorpions forward Jeff Cunningham, left, and Pablo Campos, who scored four goals in an 8-0 rout of Carolina last week, are expected to give the team a potent scoring combination.
Sunday, Aug 5 at 11:13 AM
Fresh off a record 8-0 rout of Carolina last week, the Scorpions close out their three-game homestand against the Puerto Rico Islanders on Sunday night at Heroes Stadium.
Kickoff is at 7:30.
The match will be the fourth and final regular-season meeting between the Scorpions (10-3-5) and Islanders (9-6-4).
San Antonio leads the North American Soccer League with 35 points, two more than second-place Tampa Bay. Puerto Rico is third in the standings with 31 points.
The Islanders beat the Scorpions 4-0 in the latter's home opener on April 15, and 1-0 in Puerto Rico on July 11. San Antonio beat the Islanders 2-0 in Puerto Rico on June 16.
Sunday night's match will feature the debut of newly signed Scorpions forward Jeff Cunningham, Major League Soccer's all-time career leader in goals. Scorpions manager Tim Hankinson said Saturday that Cunningham, who started practicing with the team on Tuesday, would not start.
"He's just been here for a week and he's still working on getting used to the conditions and getting his fitness up to match speed," Hankinson said. "But I certainly expect him to find minutes tomorrow night. We're just going to feel our way through it until the moment's right for him to affect the game."
Puerto Rico has tough defense
Although the Islanders have lost three consecutive road games and are 2-7 away from home this season, the Scorpions are bracing for a challenge against a team that has become one of its biggest rivals.
"They have qualified for the CONCACAF Tournament so they're going into places like last Wednesday, against El Salvador and other Caribbean and Central American countries. And those games are real street fights. They tend to bring that mentality into the games that they've played against us.
"That caught us by surprise early in the first round of games. Now we really have a feel of what we're up against each match with them. It's become confrontational, competitive and a winner-take-all type of match."
Puerto Rico's strength this season has been its defense, which has allowed only 19 goals. Only the Scorpions (15) have allowed fewer goals in the league.
San Antonio midfielder Jonathan Greenfield said the loss to the Islanders humbled the Scorpions and sparked a rivalry between two of the best teams in the NASL.
"When you play the good teams it's always a good game," Greenfield said. "But I also think it boils down to Puerto Rico put a beating on us, and it's in the back of my mind. You don't just forget."
Campos setting the pace for Scorpions
The Scorpions are an expansion team but they aren't playing like one. Their 8-0 victory against Carolina last week is the lopsided in NASL history, and they have won their last five home matches by a combined score of 16-0.
Forward Pablo Campus was named NASL Offensive Player of the Week after scoring a career-high four goals against Carolina.
Campos said the Scorpions are looking forward to playing against the Islanders again.
"It became a rivalry because they scored four goals on us in our first match at home," Campos said. "It got on our nerves, so now we want to get back at them. So that's why it became a rivalry."
Campos said he and his teammates are counting on the Scorpions' fans to give the team an edge Sunday.
"It is very important to play well at home," Campos said. "We play for our fans."