2016 was a phenomenally big and busy year for soccer in San Antonio with lots of news and a brand new team. Ultimately San Antonio FC fell just short of the playoffs but created plenty of highlights along the way, and those are recognized in the 2016 San Antonio soccer awards.
Story of the Year: San Antonio FC’s season
Okay, so we’re cheating here a little bit, in 2015 this was perhaps the closest fought award, and in 2016 it proved even harder. So yes, this isn’t an individual story, but no individual story could be pinpointed that was as big as this one. San Antonio FC’s existence fundamentally altered the soccer scene in San Antonio and their rollercoaster ride of a season kept everyone excited until the bitter end in Edinburg.
Non-San Antonio Team of the Year: Swope Park Rangers
There was certainly plenty of contenders for this award, but in the end Swope Park Rangers’ incredible run to the United Soccer League (USL) championship game pushed them over the edge. They entertained when they played at Toyota Field, and they had a phenomenal season. Rio Grande Toros FC could also have been mentioned here but their playoff collapse hurt them. FC Dallas also get an honorable mention here but as they did not play in San Antonio they are not included in consideration.
Signing of the Year: Rafael Castillo
Castillo had a strong season, although that is not why he is the winner of this award, although his on-field performances were certainly a factor. Castillo’s signing by San Antonio FC as one of the first players announced was a phenomenally astute move from the club. It created a subtle link between the old club and brought some skeptical fans on board. There is more to signing a player than just what they can do on field, there are also commercial concerns to consider and in Castillo San Antonio FC was able to hit both on and off field concerns in a player.
Amateur Team of the Year: Reagan Boys
The first time a varsity team is being recognized by the San Antonio soccer awards, the Rattlers had another strong season, earning 10 places on the All-District Teams. Coach Gilbert Villarreal also earned Coach of the Year honors as he lead the Rattlers to the regional final, losing only on a goal with just three minutes to play.
College Team of the Year: Trinity Women
It was an agonizing end to the season for Trinity’s women, falling in the national quarter finals on their own pitch, to the eventual champions. That said, the Tigers had a phenomenal season, that quarter-final loss the only loss of the season as they continued to excel, building a strong program that looks set to contend for a national title again next year.
Game of the Year: San Antonio FC v Swope Park Rangers 4/9/2016
Yet again the best match of the year occurred in April, this time it was a club match as San Antonio FC played their first ever home league match. The atmosphere was electric, despite San Antonio FC conceding just two minutes in. The crowd of 8,466 set a Toyota Field Record, with San Antonio FC coming from behind in a 1-1 draw. In 20 years there will be 18,466 people claiming they were there, keep your ticket stub!
Goal of the Year: Franck Tayou Bicycle (9/17/2016 v Tulsa Roughnecks)
Needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, Tayou scored one of his most crucial goals against Tulsa. Sure they left him wide open for the finish, but his acrobatic finish was out of the blue, with San Antonio fans not used to seeing him score goals like that. Castillo’s free-kick against LA Galaxy II was a very close second, but bicycles have a strong record in this category, and being in general play helped Tayou claim the win.
Administrator of the Year: Tim Holt (San Antonio FC)
This is no doubt the lowest of Holt’s many accolades from a very successful career as a soccer administrator but it’s one that he deserves for all he has done for soccer in San Antonio this year. Holt comes in as a phenomenal administrator who has greatly improved the back office of pro soccer in San Antonio, following from the disaster that was Howard Cornfield, creating a successful on and off field product that can no doubt stand the test of time.
Coach of the Year: Dylan Harrison (Trinity Women)
In a year with two coaches new to San Antonio this was a difficult decision but in the end Harrison just edged out Darren Powell for the award. Harrison led Trinity, in his first season back at his alma mater, to an almost perfect season, losing just once, the national quarter-finals. While it was a bitter end to the season, Harrison has proven his credentials, deserving to be at a strong school like Trinity, and he seems on track to fill the big shoes of former coach Lance Key.
College Player of the Year: Laurence Wyke (Trinity Men)
Trinity had a number of strong candidates for this award but in the end Wyke’s consistency pushed him over the edge. Wyke was strong at the back for the season, but was also able to push forward, providing a number of goals and assists. Wyke was named a first-team All-American at the end of the season, and as just a sophomore has a strong shot at backing up for this award.
Player of the Year: Stephen McCarthy (San Antonio FC)
Another tough award in 2016, with a number of players making strong arguments for winning this award. In the end McCarthy just edged it as his strong defensive performances were vital for San Antonio FC keeping them alive. What clinched it was how much the defense struggled without him there and his leadership. McCarthy has re-signed for 2017 and San Antonio FC will be hoping he can remain fit for the season.