- Radar van locations, traffic incidents & today's gas prices
- Potter: Obamacare myths and realities
- The structure and organization of the Syrian opposition
- 'Chemicals of Concern' list still wrapped in OMB red tape
- Police & fire scanners
Posted Jul 11, 2012, 9:32 am
"Tifo": it's an Italian word that was originally applied to soccer fans, but has now become a short hand for the large and elaborate banners that can be seen at stadiums all over the world.
For the mostly younger players of FC Tucson, tifo is a new thing to see in the stands. Tifo can be a bit more surprising when it displays your own face.
"That was awesome," said Carlos Montes at a morning practice this week about a banner displayed by FC Tucson supporters group Cactus Pricks. The banner featured Montes's face as well as Donny Toia.
"The fans are great. Every time you see that it pumps you up to win your home games."
The team has no home games left and have secured a place in the playoffs, but Montes and the rest of FC Tucson are not done with their season. The team leaves for La Mirada, Calif., on Wednesday for a game against the Southern California Seahorses, and will stay in that state for a match against Orange County Blue Star on Friday.
"We're just looking to win, we want to win every game," Montes, who had two goals and an assist against Brigham Young University last week, said about the matches. "We want to play well going into the playoffs, that's important."
The team acknowledges that there are some little things that need work, and one big one.
"We'll work on our weakness, which is scoring goals," said forward Max Alvarez, who last scored in early June against the Ogden Outlaws. "If we can just work on that in the training ground and transfer it to our games, we'll be fine."
Support TucsonSentinel.com & let thousands of daily readers know
your business cares about creating a HEALTHIER, MORE INFORMED Tucson
Their season closes against Orange County, and their last match here on June 23 ended with Tucson winning, but it was a heated contest that led to Orange County's coach complaining to reporters about the refereeing. Is either player worried about a vengeful Blue Star?
"We are just going to be calm; we've got our place in the playoffs," said Alvarez. "We aren't going to be stupid. We are just going to be calm and conservative."
"The only thing we are looking forward to is playing well as a team," said Montes. "That will be a great lead in to the playoffs."
Any home cooking?
Despite the work that the Cactus Pricks put into that banner, they might not be able to display it at a playoff match.
There is a bid process for playoff games, and FC Tucson may not be ready to host a playoff match said GM Jonathan Pearlman.
"They look at your revenue model, what you have or don't have in terms of facilities," said Pearlman.
The team had to apply for exemptions to host their first season, and they still don't have a scoreboard clock or a stadium that's ready to hold more than 1,000 people.
"We've told the county what we need," said Pearlman.
Nicholas Murray, communications director for the Premier Development League, said that the league's hosting rules are not hard and fast.
"Generally, the team that has the best record is the team that's most likely to host," he said.
As it stands right now, Tucson has one of the lower point totals of the six playoff teams in the Western Conference. With two games left, it is possible for Tucson to not only be in first in the Southwest Division, but finish with more points than presumptive Northwest Division champion Seattle Sounders FC U-23.
Open Cup update
Tucson's performance will give them an entry into next year's U.S. Open Cup. As for this year's Open Cup, Wednesday night marks the semifinal round.
The semifinal round marks the first in the tournament without any lower division teams, the last three were eliminated in the quarterfinal round. The last two tournaments where no lower division team made the semifinals were in 2006 and 2010.
Of the semifinal contenders, Philadelphia Union and CD Chivas USA have never won the Open Cup. It is Chivas's second trip to the semifinals, and Philadelphia has never played in the tournament.
Kansas City last won the cup in 2004. The pressure, however, is on Seattle for another win. Their current streak of three wins ties Greek American Atlas Astoria for the most consecutive wins in the tournament. A fourth win would be a feat only previously accomplished by six other teams in the 99-year history of the tournament.