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Posted Jun 15, 2012, 9:33 am
FC Tucson began its run of three games in five days with a tough test against the Los Angeles Misioneros at home Thursday night. The soccer match at Kino Sports Complex ended in a 1-1 draw.
The team keeps its unbeaten streak, which extends seven games back to their first victory on May 12 against the Pali Blues, but their shutout streak ended at 548 minutes.
The Misioneros struck their goal early in the match. The referee awarded Los Angeles a free kick just outside of the penalty area in the third minute. Goalkeeper Michael D'Arrigo blocked the shot but was unable to control the ball as Misioneros forward Victor Mendoza crashed into him. Mendoza saw the loose ball and pushed it into the goal with his leg while still getting up from the ground.
The Misioneros continued to pressure in the first half, but Tucson had its share of chances but couldn't find the back of the net.
Tucson changed up its formation, moving more players into the attack. The tactical tune-up paid off when Conor Spence, usually on the back line, headed a Reid Schmitt pass past Misioneros netminder Aldo Iñiguez.
Hungry for a second goal, FC Tucson made several substitutions late in the half. The offensive minded subs included Kyle McQuown making his first appearance in a league match.
McQuown played a role in a scary moment for the Misioneros minutes before the end of the game. McQuown collided with Iñiguez, a former arquero for Mexican clubs Pioneros and San Luis. Iñiguez went down for several minutes. He finished the game (his team brought no backup keeper), but received additional treatment as the teams were leaving the field.
The whistle blew with FC Tucson tallying its first tie of the season. The team will spend Friday travelling to Ventura to play the Ventura County Fusion and will play the Misioneros again on Monday.
"We let two points slip away"
"He toe poked it in," said FC Tucson and University of San Diego goalkeeper Michael D'Arrigo as he described Victor Mendoza's goal. "It sucks."
"There goes 550 minutes," he said about ending the streak that both he and fellow goalkeeper Brendan Roslund had established.
D'Arrigo may have felt redemed late in the second half when the Misioneros were awarded a free kick from a similar spot. He tipped the ball over the crossbar, saving FC Tucson from being down with only minutes to go.
While not being quite as blunt about drawing at home, Rick Schantz shared some of D'Arrigo's frustration with the result.
"Once we got the goal to tie it, I actually felt the game was ours to take," he said. "It was just bad luck. ... It's a game that I think we let two points slip away."
Schantz was hoping for a "fast start" against the team, but they had to make changes after the goal.
"We had this feeling that they would play really tight space passing," he said. "I knew they played a high forward ... but we couldn't put enough pressure on them."
"That early goal made us start to chase the game, but it allowed me to make some tactical changes."
Among those were pulling defensive midfielder James Cohn in the first half and replacing him with Phillipe Garre, a more attacking minded player who caused some trouble on the wings for LA in the second half.
"I wanted to get a goal," he said.
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They got it, but what Schantz termed "the tidal wave" didn't come as his squad became a bit worn out at L.A. started to play more defensively.
Even though with the tie the team is still nominally in first place, Schantz has misgivings.
"It's hard to pat myself on the back when I know what we're capable of," he said. "I really want this team to exceed or at least meet their potential."
The team is sharing the top of the table with the Ventura County Fusion, who FC Tucson is scheduled to play on Saturday. Still, there is that match on Monday with the Misioneros. Is D'Arrigo looking forward to it?
"I can't wait," he said. "We missed a couple of chances and we want to go at them again."
Just another team from East L.A.
The Misioneros have had a lackluster season so far with only two wins in ten matches. Yes, they broke Tucson's shut out streak, but they are happier about getting points.
"I don't know if it was an upset or not," said owner Gerardo Camacho after the game. "But it was a good tie. Getting points away is good for the team."
"We came short of players," Camacho said of his bench, which only had four players. "But we expect to be better on Monday night."
The Misioneros, who were known as Los Angeles Azul Legends until the start of this season, originated when an amateur club bought the PDL license of the old Los Angeles Legends. Camacho admits that the still new team has more work to do.
"We are struggling a little bit," Camacho said of his third year team. "Hopefully our fourth year we will be where we want to go."
Wait, this ball isn't pointy
One of the additions to the team this year is Kyle McQuown. McQuown had been a place kicker for the University of Arizona football team.
That's right: place kicker. That other football.
McQuown has been a regular fixture at team practices and has had a few appearances in friendlies, including one against the San Jose Earthquakes earlier this year. However, he didn't get an appearance in a full league match until he came in for an injured Travis Campbell in the 74th minute on Thursday night.
He wasn't even registered as a league player until Wednesday, but Schantz felt like McQuown deserved the call up.
"He's been so good at training; he hasn't missed a practice," Schantz said. "He still goes to work everyday."
"He's my sentimental favorite. I told him I was going to suit up and I got chills telling him," he said.
McQuown, presence on the field was not just for sentimental reasons. Schantz was hoping a second forward would add dynamism to the attack and get that second goal. It didn't result in a goal, but McQuown gave the Misioneros back line problems.
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"He's got a lot of work to do technically," Schantz said. "But there's nobody with a bigger heart. He exemplifies what FC Tucson is all about."