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FC Tucson soccer

FC Tucson discover the joys of playing in new league

I asked FC Tucson assistant coach John Pearlman how he expected Friday's match with the Arizona Sahuaros to be different from last week's match with Yavapai FC.

"Actually, we're playing El Paso this week," he said.

Here you have one of the growing pains of a brand new league: schedule changes. Pearlman is not going to obsess about it.

"As long as there is a team to play against when we go to El Paso I'll be happy."

Playing against brand new teams does present one big challenge: how do you scout them?

"It's the unknown. The first time through when you haven't seen the competition…you have to make sure you come prepared for anything," Pearlman said.

The team is coming off of a 7-2 victory in their first match, but the fact that they haven't seen their next opponent makes it hard to rest on their laurels.

"They are going to be on their guard. The only comfort we took from the game is that we got a result and it's a good way to start our season."

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Pearlman may not be obsessed with things like schedule changes or league tables, but fans and reporters are supposed to be. Fans of the game know that after a game like last week's, FC Tucson would likely be sitting at the top of the league table with 3 points and a +5 goal differential.

I made a call to Petar Draksin, the former Arizona Sahuaros coach who is the commissioner of the semi-pro Men's Super Soccer League. Draksin was careful to point out that this is a "provisional" season. Standings are not being kept and there will be no league champion crowned at the end of the summer.

What is a soccer geek to do?

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Everyone on the team calls him "Freshman."

But the outside midfielder was once known as Jesús Ortiz. That was until he tried out for the soccer team at Sunnyside High School.

"I was the only freshman that made the starting line up in varsity. There were five kids named Jesús so they just called me 'Freshman.'"

The name stuck with him through his time with the Tucson Soccer Academy and Pima College, and now, apparently, will stick through days at FC Tucson.

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Omer Wazir/TucsonSentinel.com

FC Tucson players practice last week.