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Their mind is not for rent: FC Tucson defeats Colorado Rush 3-1

Vazquez puts up first of night as Tucsonenses earn advancement in U.S. Open Cup

The win-or-go-home nature of the U.S. Open Cup can create desperation among players and teams. Risks get taken, so mistakes get made. It’s what makes even the earlier rounds of the tournament fun to watch.

Wednesday night’s opening round between local soccer side FC Tucson and visitors Colorado Rush, a Denver-based team that plays in the U,S, Premiere League, had a thrilling second half that featured both goals and a tasty helping of the sort of outrages that kept Kino North Stadium fans loud and happy.

FC Tucson started Alfonso Pinheiro for the first time this season, but Danny Musovsky and long time defender Edgar Reyna were out. Gio Vazquez opened the scoring for Tucson in the third minute.

That scoreboard dominance was narrow and didn’t last. A give away by the FC Tucson back line, a problem that has already been common in the team’s young season, led to a shot by Colorado’s Daniel Wolliscroft that beat keeper Lucas Vallilo.

Tucson had the best of possession and chances as the half wore on, but couldn’t regain the lead. Both Pinheiro and Tate Schmitt had looks at goal that were frustratingly close. One chance by Schmitt ended with Rush goalkeeper Shailer Thomas seeming to pick the ball from his shoelaces.

An early chance in the second half saw Pinheiro taking a free kick that went wide of the goal. Then things got odd.

After a series of fouls, mostly against Tucson’s speedy Werder Delmonte, Colorado’s Brad Gorham was issued a caution. Tucson coach Jon Pearlman thought that his behavior warranted a sending off, and instead he himself was sent off. Pearlman retreated to the press booth where he narrated the team’s video feed.

That left assistant coach Jose Miranda to be sideline boss. The team didn’t lose a step and the game remained chippy. Finally, a breakthrough in the final minute when a Rush midfielder lost the ball and a wave of Tucson attackers pounced, sharing Colorado’s backfield with only a pair of defenders. Delmonte led the charge before sending the ball to Moshe Perez who happily finished giving Tucson the lead and sure victory.

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Colorado’s desperation for a goal led to them pushing more players up and opened up that space for Perez and Delmonte. Still, they were now more desperate for a goal and pushed more players up, including goalkeeper Thomas. This left the goal totally undefended when Pinheiro found himself with the ball and sped up field. Thomas and a defender desperately ran back to intercept him, but he was able to score the easiest goal of his career while they were still at the halfway line.

Tucson’s win means that the team will face the Colorado Springs Switchbacks in the next round. 

***

The night’s result gave Jose Miranda a bit of bragging room. The two regular season games coached by Jon Pearlman were a loss and a draw. Miranda coached the team’s first win of 2017.

While he’s not ready to brag about that, he still had a bit of fun at the expense of the sometimes over-passionate Pearlman after the game.

“Working with Jon, I know that this may not be the last time this happens,” he said with a smile.

***

This level of the Open Cup features the top amateur squads in the country, meaning you’ve got a few up and coming players. Eighteen year-old Griffin Dorsey has not yet played his first college match, but took the field for the Rush. He was a constant source of trouble for FC Tucson, which makes sense given he’s a player on the U.S. national team’s youth sides.

Dorsey was a late addition to the squad, and, like many who are not long time followers of soccer in the US, didn’t know much about the Open Cup.

“I didn’t (know the history). I kind of got put into this last minute,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but it’s an awesome opportunity for a young player.”

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Also, you’ll run across players that used to be pros. Midfielder Colin Clark has been playing for the Rush since 2014, but before that, he played for the LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo and Colorado Rapids. He even made an appearance for the US national team against Haiti in 2009 (the same match that saw the international debut of Southern Arizonan Luis Robles). He’s now seeing the other side of the Open Cup, the underdog side.

“It’s the glory of the tournament: anyone can get in,” he said. “When we had our meeting at the start of the year, our goal was to play the Rapids. We ended up two games short.”

“It’s great to see it from this level,” he added. “You have to play two or three levels, it’s not just here’s this game.”

Ted Prezelski writes about all things soccer, fútbol and piłka nożna for TucsonSentinel.com and at the blog How Flair is Punished (mindingthe.net).


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1 comment on this story

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3 comments
May 12, 2017, 2:56 pm
-1 +2

” U,S, Premiere League” doesn’t exist, the Colorado Rush play in the United Premier Soccer League . Not only did you use commas after the u and s, you also misspelled premier (yes I know that some leagues spell it that way but not the UPSL).  But despite these errors and while I don’t always agree with the analysis, the author does a great job covering FC Tucson.

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FC Tucson

FC Tucson and Colorado Rush take the field at Kino North Stadium