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Orlando City’s Impact on the Growth of San Antonio FC

When San Antonio FC came into existence, the club decided to use two men from Orlando City to lead the way.

Real Salt Lake v Orlando City SC Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

In late 2010, the North American Soccer League (NASL) announced it was expanding to San Antonio, TX. The new team would start play in 2012 and be owned by philanthropist Gordon Hartman. With the name San Antonio Scorpions, Hartman built a small soccer-specific stadium in the city next to Morgan's Wonderland, a theme park built for children with special needs.

Near the end of 2015, Toyota Field was sold by Hartman to the city of San Antonio. Around the same time, Spurs Sports and Entertainment, owners of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, announced that it would be launching a new team in the United Soccer League (USL). This announcement was concurrent with the folding of the NASL's Scorpions.

The switch of teams and leagues worked for the group. One of the best-supported teams in American soccer's lower leagues, the support that made the Scorpions well-known transferred directly to the new USL outfit, San Antonio FC. The team finished the 2016 USL season with the league's fourth-best attendance at 6,170.

Behind that bolstering attendance of the fledgling club were two men who recently called Orlando home. After spending over 10 years in the front offices of the USL, eventually becoming league president, Tim Holt joined Orlando City as the Lions made their jump from the USL to Major League Soccer (MLS). While Holt had a wealth of experience in the league offices, it was his first foray into being a part of a club.

Holt's main responsibilities while with the Lions was to launch the club's two new teams; the Orlando Pride of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) and Orlando City B in the USL. Under Holt's guidance, the club saw the successful launch of these two new teams, fulfilling the vision of club President Phil Rawlins.

In January 2016, Holt left his post at Orlando City to take over as managing director of San Antonio FC. His new position gives Holt an expanded role where he can put his stamp on a club on the move. While Holt has certainly gained a lot from each of his previous positions, his time with Orlando City definitely gave him the knowledge and experience he needs to fulfill the role that San Antonio FC expects him to as the Texas team attempts to climb into MLS.

While Holt may have been the bigger name to depart from Orlando City to join San Antonio FC, he wasn't the only one. Prior to joining Orlando City's development academy staff, Darren Powell was the head coach at Elon University. There he built a small men's soccer program into a national powerhouse.

In 2014, Orlando City hired Powell to be director of the boys academy and was able to study under then-Head Coach Adrian Heath. While he had tremendous experience and success at the collegiate level, this gave Powell a first-hand look at how a professional first team handled training sessions. This experience gives Powell an upper hand as he takes over his first professional first-team coaching job in San Antonio.

When Spurs Sports and Entertainment Group joined the USL and started up the new team, the company had the ultimate goal of reaching MLS. In order to do that, they knew they had to get the right people into place. Two key members they sought out to take them to the first tier of American soccer was Tim Holt and Darren Powell. And it was Holt and Powell's experience at Orlando City that made them the right men for the jobs.