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FC Tucson soccer

Tucsonenses win opener over Duke City rivals

Home state duo Valenzuela, German collaborate on goals

FC Tucson won its first league match under new coach Dave Cosgrove on Saturday night at Kino Stadium. The local soccer side earned two goals to Albuquerque Sol FC’s one.

That result wasn’t obvious during the first 20 minutes of the match. Play was nearly entirely in FC Tucson’s back third. It was only heroics from goalkeeper Briley Guarneri that keep Sol off the board. After the game, Cosgrove reacted to the early minutes by slapping his own face and grimacing, but said the end was "the best soccer we’ve played all year, by far."

FC Tucson started to get a better hold of the match about a third of the way through. In minute 23, winger Kyle Van Alstine found a path through Albuquerque’s midfield and got the ball to the feet of Jason Romero. The shot was saved, but the play marked a turnaround for the home side.

Four minutes later, Adrian Valenzuela sent the ball to Damian German. German’s shot beat Albuquerque keeper Ford Parker for the first goal of the match.

The opening minutes of the second half were a repeat of that story with a bit of extra flair. This time, Valenzuela’s pass across the penalty area to German was nearly deflected by an Albuquerque defender. German, possibly unsure of where the pass would go with that defender there, threw himself in the path of the ball. It struck his knee and made it into the goal.

Cosgrove ordered up a raft of subs after the hour mark, including bringing in returning forward Werder Delmonte for speed. The changed up side gave Albuquerque some hope. Sol defender Quinn Fahling scored in the 86th minute, leaving FC Tucson scrambling to deny the visitors an equalizer. The scrappy defending worked, and los Tucsonenses opened their league season with a win.

The team travels to Sin City to take on Freddy Adu and Las Vegas Lights in the second round of the US Open Cup, then they get two-week break before returning to league play.

Cos speaks

A win is a win, but the first part of the game looked dicey — a fact that coach Cosgrove acknowledged after the game when he was asked about it.

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It wasn’t a quote so much as a gesture: he slapped his face with both hands and grimaced.

“To their (Albuquerque’s) credit, I thought they moved the ball well, they were organized, they were quick, good shape. It was hard to get a good rhythm in the game,” he said. “What I was happy in the first 20 minutes is that we were organized for the most part. When we had a breakdown, the keeper made two really good saves to keep us in the game.”

“I thought that after the 20-minute mark to 15 minutes before the end of the match was the best soccer we’ve played all year, by far,” he added.

Always different, always the same

Gilbert-born Briley Guarneri was five minutes away from logging his first shutout of the season.

The Colorado Mesa goalkeeper spent last summer with FC Tucson in the rotation behind Luis Vallilo and Luis Barraza, so he only got a couple of chances to do so last year. Still, he got to be between the pipes for a few games, making a spectacular save in a match against San Diego last May.

That makes Guarneri part of a select group: a returnee from last year’s squad. He noted that Albuquerque also was a very different team than last year.

“With the PDL, it’s a quick turn-around from year to year. You never know what you are going to see. We have a new coaching staff; they have a new coaching staff as well,” he said. “It wasn’t a matter of ‘here’s what we are going to see.’ But, let’s go, this is a rivalry. There’s a lot at stake.”

The biggest change for Guarneri is playing for a new coach.

“It’s always going to be different from coach to coach. I love the way Cosgrove coaches and I love the way (former coach Jonathan) Pearlman coaches,” he said. “They are different styles, but they both know how to get the most out of their players and they know how to win.”

“It’s still the game of the soccer... different coach, it doesn’t matter,” he added.

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FC Tucson

FC Tucson's Jason Romero surrounded by Sol midfielders

FC Tucson v Albuquerque Sol FC

Kino North Stadium

Scoring Summary
FCT - Damian German (27’)
FCT - German (53’)
ABQ - Quinn Fahling (86’)

Misconduct Summary
FCT - Briley Guarneri (caution, 6’)
ABQ - Isaiah Madrid (caution, 44’)

FC Tucson: Briley Guarneri - Kyle Van Alstine, Amr Mokhtar, James McGhee (Kevin Perez 65’), Ryan Scarpulla - Miguel Salazar, A. J. Valenzuela, Alejandro Gonzalez (Dalton Pando 63’), Damian German (Werder Delmonte 72’), Julian Gaona (Mark Morris 80’) - Jason Romero (Adrian Martinez 82’)

Albuquerque Sol FC: Ford Parker - Nick Barriero (Joe Ortiz 65’), Dillon Nino, Edgar Davila, Lucas Seligman - Josh Goss, Isaiah Madrid, Pat Pacheco, Sergio Rivas, James Urbany - Luke Lawrence