FC Tucson, Kickers go scoreless in Tucson match
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FC Tucson, Kickers go scoreless in Tucson match

Ejimadu records third shut-out

Both FC Tucson and Richmond Kickers needed three points to vault themselves into the top 4 of the USL League One table when the game began at Kino North Stadium on Saturday night. Despite a hard-fought match, the two teams had to settle for sharing points after a nil-nil draw.

For FC Tucson, the match marked the return of Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu from a loan to Phoenix Rising and defender Kyle Venter, who also spent time at Rising, had a short recovery from an ankle injury.

FC Tucson only managed a single shot on frame in the first half, leaving the team's heroics to goalkeeper Philip Ejimadu. Richmond's Joe Gallardo, his team's leading scorer, got the ball in the box in the 36th minute. He managed to slip away from defenders Kyle Venter and Luke Hauswirth to launch a shot only a few yards from the goal. Ejimadu went to ground a few feet from Gallardo, batting the shot away into safety.

By that point, the two teams were near-even on possession. That continued into the second half. In minute 70, FC Tucson brought on Roy Abergil and Guillermo Delgado to sharpen up the attack. Despite FC Tucson's offensive flurry late in the match, no player was able to find the back of the net.

The draw puts FC Tucson in fifth place on the table at the top of a cluster of five teams that all have 12 points. The team will have a chance to vault into the top four with a rematch away against Orlando City B on Wednesday and a trip to Madison on Saturday. FC Tucson tied Orlando on May 31 at home, and Madison is on a winless streak going back to May 4.

Full team effort

It was a frustrating match, but coach Darren Sawatzky saw some positives.

"We are working on a specific plan. We had a 20-minute span between the 60th and 80th minute where we did very well and did what we needed to win," he said. "We just didn't finish."

"I don't think we were as sharp as we wanted to be tonight," said outside back Kyle Venter. "That said, I think we created the chances to win the game."

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Of course, a scoreless draw also means that the defense kept the other team from scoring. Venter took some positives from that.

"It was a full team effort," he said. "I credit our commitment to get back behind the ball to block shots and put our bodies on the line. Philip made a huge save in the first half...our commitment to defend has always got to be there and our effort if non-negotiable."

Scoring in the Valley of the Yakes

One FC Tucson player can take solace in the fact that he did score this weekend. Unfortunately for Tucson fans, it was on loan to Phoenix Rising for their Friday night match. Andrew Wheeler-Omionu scored two minutes after coming into the match as a late game substitute to put the final polish on a 5 - 0 win over the Tulsa Roughnecks. It was the team's eleventh straight win on "Dollar Beer Night."

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Lalo Miranda, FC Tucson

Goalkeeper Philip Ejimadu only recorded two saves, but it was enough to get him his third shut out.

FC Tucson v Richmond Kickers

Kino North Stadium

Scoring Summary

None

Misconduct Summary

RIC - Maxi Rodriguez (caution, 24’)

TUC - Jordan Jones (caution, 33’)

RIC - Jannik Eckinrode (caution, 90’)

Lineups

FC Tucson: Phillip Ejimadu - Luke Hauswirth, Lamar Baptista, Kyle Venter, Jose Terron - Jamael Cox, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, Erik Virgen, Devyn Jambga, Zach Wright (Guillermo Delgado 71’) - Jordan Jones (Roy Abergil 71’)

Richmond Kickers: Akira Fitzgerald - Scott Thomsen, Wahab Ackwei, Conor Shanosky, Eli Lockaby - Maxi Rodriguez (Jannik Eckenrode 84’), Nick Retzlaff, Joe Gallardo, Greg Boehme (Josh Hughes 60’) - Mutaya Mwape, Dennis Chin (Luke Pavone 76’)