FC Tucson collars Mobsters, 2-0
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FC Tucson collars Mobsters, 2-0

Aggressive formation pays off with goals from Espindola, Clemens

FC Tucson opened their season in Las Vegas on May 8 and played a seesaw battle with the Mobsters that ended in a 2-2 draw. On Saturday night the Vegas soccer squad were on Tucson’s home turf, Kino North Stadium, and didn’t manage to answer the local side’s goals. Tucson ended the night with a 2-0 win.

As in Las Vegas, the Mobsters started with a defense-oriented formation that left only UNLV sniper Danny Musovsky up top.

FC Tucson was able to break down the defense relatively early. Sebastian Pineda broke past his defender to cross the ball to Brandon Zambrano, who dished it to Pedro Espindola, who tapped it in past Vegas keeper Hector Casillas.

The 21st-minute goal was Espindola’s first of the season.

Los Tucsonenses extended their lead in minute 39 with a cross that seemed all-too easily headed in by David Clemens.

A more aggressive Las Vegas side greeted FC Tucson in the second half with the entry of former NK Zagreb midfieler Stefan Škrinjarić and forward Franck Tayou. Still, most of the offensive work continued to fall to Musovsky as Tucson’s defense left him isolated.

In the waning moments of the match, a Las Vegas player knocked down substitute FC Tucson defender Kalem Scott and charged Dallas Jaye. A scuffle ensued involving players from both sides. It ended with the referees issuing two yellow cards and blowing the whistle before extra time was over.

FC Tucson next plays PDL-aspirant Frontera United from Yuma in a friendly on Tuesday night. Their next league match will be on the road against Albuquerque on Saturday.

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New offensive shape

Tucson’s record so far, if you discount friendlies, is two wins, two draws and a loss in a U.S. Open Cup match with a lower-level team. Although it leaves FC Tucson undefeated in league play, there is a bit of inconsistency, and sometimes a lack of bite. This was particularly a problem against Chula Vista in the Open Cup and last week’s match against BYU.

FC Tucson staff has identified the trouble as tentativeness with the final ball and a shortage of speed. Schantz made some tactical changes before this match to solve those issues.

“We had to have a target forward and David Clemens has been playing well this week,” he said after the match. “He’s a good combination player. That’s allowed us to have four attacking guys underneath him. We’ve had three the last two games. It was definitely risky … but it worked exactly as we wanted.”

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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Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.com

Las Vegas midfielder Oscar Velazquez clears a Tucson corner in the first half.