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Soccer notes

The Matao that roared: Arizona players power Guam over India

Arizona-born McDonald and FC Tucson's Nicklaw snatch goals for tiny island against world's second-largest nation

India is a cricketing country that doesn’t have the best record in world soccer. Even so, to see a nation of more than 1.2 billion people get beaten by the island of Guam (population 159,358) in a World Cup qualifier makes the word “upset” come to mind.

What’s even better for those who follow soccer in Arizona: both of Guam’s goals in the 2-1 victory on Tuesday came from players with Arizona ties.

Guam’s football team, nicknamed the Matao, won with goals from Brandon McDonald and Travis Nicklaw.

McDonald scored in the 37th minute off of a throw-in by Ryan Guy of the San Antonio Scorpions. Nicklaw extended the lead in minute 62 with an assist from his brother Shawn. Indian captain Sunil Chhetri, one of his country’s most decorated players, kept his team from getting shut-out in stoppage time.

McDonald and Nicklaw were among a handful of U.S. mainland players with family ties to the island. Others included the LA Galaxy’s A J de la Garza and Nicklaw’s brother Shawn of the Jacksonville Armada.

McDonald grew up in Glendale where he and his sister Jessica (currently of the Houston Dash) were standouts at youth club Sereno. McDonald went on to play for several MLS teams and Swedish club Ljungskile SK.

Travis Nicklaw is still playing college soccer for San Diego State, where he was picked as a Top Drawer Soccer top 100 freshman back in 2012. He is currently on the roster as a defender for FC Tucson.

FC Tucson’s Dallas Jaye has been on the bench for both of Guam’s qualifying matches, but has had four previous appearances for the team.

Guam beat Turkmenistan on an own goal from defender Serdar Annaorazow on June 11. This gives them six points and puts them at the top of their qualifying group. They now have a break until September 3 with a tough and politically fraught match against Iran. That game is tentatively scheduled to be held in Tehran, but could be moved to a neutral location.

This gives both Jaye and Nicklaw a chance to come back to FC Tucson. According to FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz, Jaye is expected to return to the team. Nicklaw may not be able to due to other commitments. If he does come back, Schantz might have to consider new options for the defender.

“All this time, I’ve been playing him in the wrong position,” he said.

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Guam Football Association

Guam's Travis Nicklaw attempts a shot as India's Arnab Kumar Mondal extends to try to block the ball during a 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier.

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