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FC Tucson

FCT v TFC: Tucson's soccer team faces MLS farm club in 1st home pro match

'Young team' split two road matches, looking for win in front of home fans

FC Tucson’s first road trip as a professional squad was a bit of a wash, said coach Darren Sawatzky.

“We got three points…then we didn’t get three points,” he said of the trip that included a win over Orlando City B and a loss to Tormenta FC. “We’re a young team. We’re new. The league is new. We were very disciplined against Orlando and we took a couple of liberties and got caught against Tormenta.”

The team has its first home match on Saturday as they take on Toronto FC II at Kino North Stadium at 7 p.m.

FC Tucson will have a very different look now that it is a pro team, but there will be a few familiar faces. One is Austin Ledbetter, who played on the back line for Los Tucsonenses in 2014 and 15. He turned professional and played two seasons at St. Louis FC. The defensive acumen that Ledbetter brings is an important part of the overall look of the team and something that can be built on, says Sawatzky.

“We are a very organized defensive team,” he said. “We’ll add the percentage of posession with every game we play. We’ll get better and better with putting our stamp on the game…it’s still early stages.”

Saturday’s opponent is, as the name suggests, an affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC. The affiliation with the 2017 MLS Cup champions means that they are a formidable opponent. Both because their players mostly come from the team’s academy, giving them cohesion and familiarity with each other. Also, the parent team has been willing to loan players. Tsubasa Endoh, in his fourth year with Toronto’s senior squad, scored in the TFC II’s match last week.

As for who will be on the field on Saturday, look for Ledbetter, Spanish forward Guillermo Delgado, who earned a brace in the team’s first match and Phoenix Rising loanee Devin Vega. All three players have already been honored with “Team of the Week” nods from USL League One. 

Two more players have been added to the squad this week, both on loan from USL Championship side Hartford FC. Scott DeVoss, before he played for Hartford, earned the record for appearances at the University of Denver and scored six goals. Klisman Souza plied his trade at Providence College before joining Hartford FC this year.

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The team also announced another loanee from Phoenix Rising this week with Illijah Paul joining the team. Paul signed with Rising at the age of 16, making him the youngest in that team’s history. He previously played with Real Salt Lake’s development academy.

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FC Tucson

Devin Vega earned USL League One team of the week honors for a free kick in a loss to South Georgia Tormenta FC.