Image: San Antonio Scorpions

With the team’s majority owner looking to sell the club, Rayo OKC may soon need to make some changes to compensate for losing a deep-pocketed owner – and that might just open the door for Billy Forbes to return to San Antonio…but would that be the right move?

Raul Martin Presa is the majority owner of both Rayo OKC of the North American Soccer League and Rayo Vallecano, who were recently relegated from Spain’s La Liga. Because of his Spanish club’s relegation, Presa is reportedly looking to sell his second-division American club, who aren’t even one-third of the way through their inaugural NASL season, in order to focus his efforts and resources on getting Rayo Vallecano back into Spain’s top flight.

Following that news, people in San Antonio started connecting the (perhaps nonexistent) dots and suggesting that, if Rayo OKC is looking to offload some players to compensate for losing Presa as an owner, then San Antonio FC should look into acquiring winger Billy Forbes.

The Turks and Caicos winger is a familiar face to San Antonio soccer fans. Forbes joined partway through the Scorpions’ 2014 season and played with them until they folded in November 2015. He notched 15 assists in his time with the Scorpions, including a league-leading 7 in 2014, and was a crucial part of their Soccer Bowl triumph in 2014, scoring the title-winning goal.

Forbes was a mainstay in the team and at one point set the franchise record for consecutive league appearances. He earned his consistent spot with clever, explosive play that provided a spark even when the rest of the offense wasn’t clicking.

A Billy Forbes return to the Alamo City isn’t all we imagine it would be though. Before you light your torches and grab your pitchforks, think about it.

  1. Even though he’s a great player, Forbes isn’t what the SAFC offense needs right now and would only create further congestion in his position.

Forbes’ attacking prowess is undeniable, but what he contributes isn’t what SAFC needs most right now. SAFC hasn’t scored in 342 minutes of league play, but the problem rests up top. Forwards such as Jason Johnson and Shawn Chin haven’t had their scoring boots on recently, so SAFC needs reinforcing at that position.

That’s not where Forbes would be playing though; he’d be sitting behind the main striker(s) or out on the wing, not playing as the focal point up top. While Forbes could play with another striker at the top of a formation, that’s not where he’s most effective and can make the biggest difference.

Additionally, the spot Forbes would occupy already has multiple tenants, including Carlos Alvarez, Danny Garcia and Victor Araujo. While Forbes could easily compete with those players and others for his spot in the lineup, the other players would find their roles in the team diminished. All three of Alvarez, Garcia and Araujo have featured often for SAFC this year and, despite the impotence up top, are still keeping the offense moving and creating chances.

  1. Forbes won’t be easy to acquire and would be joining a new team midway through the season.

At the moment, the idea of Rayo OKC having to sell off some of their players to make ends meet is really just speculation – there’s been no actual discussion of them doing so. For this reason, we can’t act like Billy Forbes is on the market for a new team.

Even if Rayo OKC were looking to sell a few players, they’d likely want to hold onto Forbes and put someone like Georgios Samaras in the shop window. Also, Rayo OKC’s head coach, Alen Marcina, brought Forbes to the Scorpions in 2014 and convinced him to come along when he made the move to Rayo OKC, so Marcina will likely want to hold onto Forbes if he can.

Even if Marcina is willing to part ways with Forbes, SAFC would have to cough up a transfer fee for the winger. It’s not like that’s impossible, but you don’t see very many straight-up transfers in the lower divisions of American soccer. You’re more likely to see players swapped, at least in the middle of the season…or you could always try trading a player for travel and hotel considerations (hey, San Antonio’s done it before).

Even if you clear all of those hurdles, Forbes would still be coming into the team midway through the season with next to no chemistry with his teammates. While there are three players on SAFC’s roster who previously played with Forbes, Rafa Castillo would likely be the only meaningful link. Matt Cardone and Milton Palacios aren’t likely to have worked too closely with Forbes, given their radically different positions on the pitch, plus Cardone never played much and Palacios came into the team halfway through 2015.

Granted, Forbes and Castillo both came in partway through the Scorpions’ 2014 season and settled well. However, they were perhaps the missing links in the team that eventually captured a championship, whereas Forbes wouldn’t be filling a hole in the team, as detailed above. Forbes and Castillo also had a month-long break in the middle of the 2014 season, a luxury the USL season does not afford.

  1. The San Antonio soccer landscape in which Forbes succeeded has changed quite a bit in the short time he’s been gone.

Things have changed quite a bit in the few months Billy Forbes has been away from the San Antonio soccer scene. While he was an important figure in the Scorpions’ last two seasons, there’s no guarantee he’d find himself similarly important and endearing in these early days of SAFC.

A new organization is running San Antonio’s professional soccer team with different idea in mind, the stadium in which the team plays has been altered a fair bit to reflect the transition, an almost-entirely-new team is pulling on the shirt of the new club…things have changed quite a bit since Forbes was last here. The soccer landscape in San Antonio is arguably now better than it was when Forbes departed…but different nonetheless.

No discussions are known to have taken place between Forbes and SAFC, and if any happened, they obviously didn’t do enough to convince the fan favorite to stay in San Antonio. Maybe Forbes was just too determined to stick with Marcina or maybe SAFC just didn’t see him as part of their plans; we can only speculate – but isn’t that what started this recent #BringBillyHome discussion in the first place?

Yes, there’s always a possibility Billy Forbes could come “home” to San Antonio, but it doesn’t seem likely – and perhaps it’s not even the right move, for club or player. Forbes’ past exploits in San Antonio were undoubtedly memorable and have endeared him in the hearts of San Antonio soccer fans forever, but it’s time to move on.

Forbes knows he’s loved in San Antonio, and he clearly appreciates the fans who wish he were still here, but he’s moved on to Rayo OKC and openly admits he’s happy where he is.

Love him and respect him all you want, San Antonio soccer fans, but let what’s past remain in the past and focus on the players who are here. Sure, SAFC’s going through a bit of a rough patch in the league right now, but you have to keep cheering them on and have confidence that the club knows what they’re doing – do you think they don’t? – and will manage to turn things around. Even if Forbes did come back, it likely wouldn’t change much.

Posted by J. Check

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