Seattle Sounders FC continues to use long-standing relationships to loan young players with sides in the lower levels. In the case of Eriq Zavaleta’s loan to the San Antonio Scorpions it was a former coach of Sporting Director Chris Henderson’s who needed some help at forward. Coach Tim Hankinson spent several years in MLS, but is now with the NASL team growing the sport there. Eriq went on loan for 10 days originally and started both matches with the his temporary club. He rejoined San Antonio Scorpions for their match this weekend and scored a goal and earned an assist in their 4-1 win over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
In his first stint Zavaleta helped the team earn two wins. One of those wins was over the Tampa Bay Rowdies. That win may have felt a bit sweeter according to his on-loan coach. While he didn’t get a goal, nor an assist, Hankinson felt he helped the squad with solid target play. That play helped him get a second loan, a third start and his first goal.
“What he did very well for us was target play with his back to the goal and bringing midfielders into the attack,” Hankinson told SoundersFC.com via phone earlier this week. “His control in possession and composure was very good for us. It helped put other players in dangerous spots around goal.”
As a young, developing talent the differing style used by the Scorpions should help improve Eriq’s play. They sit back in a compact defensive posture because high pressure on defense can be exhausting in the heat of South Texas. That shape puts a strong emphasis on the hold-up play at forward so the midfield can enter the attack.
That means more touches with a centerback or other defender on the attacking player and the vision to hit open runners when they come. It is a solid scenario for player development.
“I went there to try to better myself to be a part of helping this team,” Zavaleta told the media after Monday’s practice last week. “Sigi saw an opportunity for me to get some minutes. You have to take it as a positive. What you put into it is what you take out of it, and I think I put as much effort as I could into it. Therefore it was successful.”
He put in such effort that Hankinson had to pull him back a bit. Playing in 95-degree heat is a bit different than mixed sun and rain of Seattle. It is also an effort and character that the tenured professional coach finds valuable in players. He sees character players that put in effort as crucial to helping teams win.
“Seattle’s got a great character player who is competitively strong therefore he’s going to be with the club through thick and thin. They’ve got a good player in Eriq.”
If everything falls the Scorpions way Zavaleta and the club could earn the Spring Championship in the NASL’s first ever split season.