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Updated May 12, 2012, 10:41 am
A cliche among soccer commentators is that a decent team will win its home games, and "steal" points on the road by tieing teams.
FC Tucson nearly carried out such a theft last week when the upstart team kept last year's league champion Fresno Fuego tied until the 80th minute on a goal from Nini Blanco.
According to FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz, the loss disappointed the team despite their performance.
"We gave them everything they could handle," he said. "The guys are frustrated that they didn't get a point this weekend."
The team travels to Pacific Pallisades to play against the Pali Blues on Saturday. Schantz and FC Tucson has not had a chance to scout the team, but Schantz notes that the team plays on an artificial-turf football field. This will allow him to go back to the three forward and wide midfield formation that he was not able to use against Fresno, who played on a narrower field.
Schantz says his team was not shaken by last week's loss.
"They are not gun shy at all," he said about the team going in to this weekend.
The Pali Blues, like FC Tucson, have only played one game in the season so far. They tied the Orange County Blue Star last week.
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Who's the boss?
A Taoist would be happy to know that Pali Blues fields both a men's and a women's side. The feminine Blues don't play until May 13th, so fans seeing this weekend's FC Tucson match won't see their supporters' group: Tony Danza Army.
Yes, that is the name of their supporters' group.
If that sounds a random, it's because it is.
"It's an unusual moniker. I'll give you that," said Zack Goldman, who founded the group in 2008 with his brother Max.
Goldman admits that the name was chosen purposely to be "obscure."
Also, he admits, it would cause a chuckle if the group ever earned a rough reputation.
"They'd have to say 'Watch out for Tony Danza Army!' It would be funny."
What does the former Tony Banta think of all this?
"To my knowledge, Tony Danza isn't aware of our existence, but we'd love to welcome him to a game," said Goldman.
The group has struggled, as many supporters' groups have at all levels, to walk that balance between keeping things "family-friendly," but at the same time rowdy enough for the people that are attracted to soccer fan culture. Hooliganism, he is careful to point out, is not tolerated.
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"We're not the group that throws flares."
"Tony Danza Army meshes well with the other demographic, families with kids. We create a panorama in the crowd," he said.
Interestingly, he already has become familiar with both FC Tucson and their fan club, the Cactus Pricks.
"We had members who are Galaxy fans that traveled to Tucson for the Desert Cup," he said. "They had a lot of good things to say about the fans there."
"They are a very organic movement, passionate about the game. It's very powerful."
Although Tony Danza Army are officially supporters of the women's team, they have started to go to the men's games. The men have their own supporters' group, The Pali Blues Brothers.
Goldman started by running the supporters' group, but was recently brought on board as director of operations for both the men's and women's teams.
As a front office person now, he's got praise for what FC Tucson has brought to the league.
"They go beyond the usual PDL effort," he said. "They will bump all of the clubs up a level."
PDL Team of the Week
The PDL announced its Team of the Week for the first week of the 2012 season Thursday, honoring Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 forward Carlos Marquez as Player of the Week after had two goals and an assist in his side’s 3-0 victory against defending PDL champions the Kitsap Pumas last Friday night.
Joining Marquez is Fresno's Nini Blanco, who scored a spectacular goal from the center circle against FC Tucson to give his team the winner late in last Saturday's match.
The list also includes Evan Raynr, who is on the Pali Blues team that FC Tucson will be facing this weekend. Raynr earned the honor for sneaking a ball past Orange County's goalkeeper moments before half-time in last week's match.
FC Tucson's Donny Toia made the honorable mentions list for his goal against Fresno last Saturday.