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U.S. Open Cup

FC Tucson has Scorpions for breakfast in 2OT PK win

Velasco and Robinson score; team wins tied game in penalty kicks

FC Tucson won against the North American Soccer League's San Antonio Scorpions on Tuesday night, but it took two extra times and a tiebreaker to do it. The game in San Antonio ended with a 2-2 draw, with FC Tucson edging San Antonio 4-3 on penalty kicks.

The win over the second-division Scorpions puts Tucson's two-year-old semi-pro club in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, farther than any team from Arizona has managed in the tournament. They'll move on to face a Major League Soccer team next week.

Tucson withstood pressure for the first half hour of the match with only an occasional foray towards San Antonio's goal. The Scorpions picked up the lead at the 30-minute mark when Walter Ramirez delivered the ball to former Toronto FC player Kevin Harmse, whose clinical header found the back of the goal.

Tucson exerted themselves a bit better in the second half. Ricardo Velasco threatened over and over again, and his persistence paid off in minute 55 when an outside shot made it past the San Antonio keeper.

Tucson built that into a lead in the 67th minute when a shot from Saeed Robinson found its home.

Tucson kept up the pressure, but San Antonio found a way in as the minutes slowly dribbled by as the clock reached 90.

In a stoppage time advance towards goal, the ball came off the arm of a prostrate defender. The referee called it a hand ball in the box and gave San Antonio a penalty kick.Dutch forward Hans Denissen's effort made it past the outstretched hands of FC Tucson keeper Dallas Jaye and earned his team a reprise in extra time.

Both teams were spent for the two 15-minute extra time periods. Despite shots from Tucson's Robinson, Velasco and David Clemens and two dangerous chances from San Antonio's Esteban Bayona, the game was still a draw after 120 grueling minutes.

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FC Tucson only needed four perfect penalty kicks as San Antonio missed two. The win means Tucson moves on to the third round of the U.S. Open Cup away against Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo next Wednesday.

A little preparation

After the match, an exuberant Rick Schantz discussed how his squad was able to deal with San Antonio.

"We paid attention to their team," the coach said. "We watched their videos on the NASL website."

Things got a bit more sophisticated than that, approaching cloak and dagger level. It turns out that Schantz's coaching staff has connections with coaches for both the Atlanta Silverbacks and the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, fellow members of the NASL with San Antonio. Their advice was to shut down left midfielder Walter Ramirez. Schantz put Eli Galbraith-Knapp on the task.

The strategy had the desired result, despite San Antonio's first-half goal.

"It worked perfectly," Schantz said. "They scored on a set play. They weren't getting anything out of the run of play."

San Antonio pressed Tucson back for large stretches of the first half, but Schantz decided in the second half to move Galbraith-Knapp into the middle of the field and free up other players to play outside. This new formation gave the team two goals, including one by Saeed Robinson to give Tucson the lead.

"Saeed's balance and upper body strength is incredible," said Schantz of the midfielder. "He can hold defenders off. He's one of the great finds of the season."

A lack of familiarity will not be a problem when it comes to the Houston Dynamo, who FC Tucson plays in the third round next week. The team was a contender in the last two MLS Cups, had a bid in the CONCACAF Champions League and just ended a 36-game winning streak. He points out, however, that that team's lynchpin, Brad Davis, has been called into national team camp and may not play.

It could happen. They've already beaten two pro teams.

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San Antonio Scorpions

Youtube Video

FC Tucson v San Antonio Scorpions

Toyota Field, San Antonio, Texas

  • Scoring summary
  • SAS – Kevin Harmse (30’)
  • FCT – Ricardo Velasco (57’)
  • FCT – Saeed Robinson (67’)
  • SAS – Hans Denissen (90’+, pk)
  • Penalty kicks
  • SAS – Blake Wagner: goal, 1 - 0
  • FCT – Greg Carter: goal, 1 - 1
  • SAS – Pat Phelan: miss, 1 -1
  • FCT – Connor Brandt: goal, 1 - 2
  • SAS – Walter Ramirez, goal, 2 - 2
  • FCT – Brandon Zimmerman: goal, 2 - 3
  • SAS – Hans Denissen: goal, 3 - 3
  • FCT – Dakota Collins: goal, 3 – 4
  • SAS – Kevin Harmse: miss, 3 – 4
  • FC Tucson wins on penalty kicks, 4 - 3
  • Misconduct summary
  • FCT – Eli Galbraith-Knapp (caution, 37’)
  • SAS – Kevin Harmse (caution, 42’)
  • SAS – Bryan Jordan (caution, 90’+)
  • SAS – Blake Wagner (caution, 109’)
  • FC Tucson: Dallas Jaye – Travis Campbell, Edgar Reyna, Tim Harbinson, Greg Carter – Connor Brandt, Eli Galbraith-Knapp, Brandon Zimmerman – Saeed Robinson (Dakota Collins 82’), David Clemens (Conner Bevans 65’), Ricardo Velasco
  • San Antonio Scorpions: Jeremy Vuolo – Lyle Martin (Stephen DeRoux 51’), Blake Wagner, Luka Vučko, Chris Williams – Pat Phelan, Kevin Harmse, Walter Ramirez, Javier Saavedra (Hans Denissen 71’), Edin Husić (Bryan Jordan 68’) – Esteban Bayona