FC Tucson gears up for 5th away match in a row | Soccer
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FC Tucson gears up for 5th away match in a row

Next contest with top-of-the-table but struggling North Texas will prove a tough game

FC Tucson’s match on Saturday is against North Texas SC, a team that plays in suburban Dallas. It’s yet another road trip for the team, but the shortest one in a league where Los Tucsonenses are the only squad that plays its home matches west of the 100th meridian.

Tucson last played at home on July 3, a win against Toronto FC 2. Saturday’s match will be the fifth away game out of six before they get to play another match at Kino North Stadium. It means several weeks in a row with training schedules shortened due to travel.

Nevertheless, the team has had a relatively good record in this stretch on the road, a win, two draws and a loss.

“It’s been difficult,” said coach Darren Sawatzky. “The trick for us is to maintain what we’ve done. The first three games we did very well, we were unlucky not to get a result in Madison.”

“Mentally, we just get on with it,” said defender and team captain Kyle Venter. “We’ve gotten into a good rhythm: travel, play, recover. We get a couple of good days of training and we just get on with it.”

As well as the team has been doing on the road, the match against Madison last Saturday showed that the travel schedule may be affecting the team.

“Because of the travel, we are executing a certain way,” Sawatzky said. “We let them run on one play. We didn’t track runners, and we got caught...but we could have had two goals before that. We finish our chances and that doesn’t happen.”

“That doesn’t let us off the hook,” Venter said commenting on how close they were to scoring those two goals. “We need to be able to respond and maintain our composure...we have to create our own luck...we need to continue to get better.”

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The last two games on this road trip, Saturday’s match against North Texas and a match next week against South Georgia Tormenta, are against two of the top three teams on the league table. Although North Texas is the number one team in the league, they have hit a bit of a skid. They have lost their last two matches, most spectacularly a 4 - 0 loss to Greenville Triumph on July 26. They also ended both of those matches with ten players due to red cards.

They are still the number-one team, however.

“They are talented; they know who they are,” said Venter. “They set the league on fire early on...they are very confident with a lot of energy. The rest of the league has closed the gap a little bit, but that doesn’t take away from how good a team they are.”

Coach Sawatzky didn’t reveal any deep tactical details for the North Texas game; but Venter thought it was simple.

“We don’t have to win every moment, but we have to take advantage of the big ones,” he said.

A place for three

On Friday, North Texas revealed a list of 10 additional players that will be available against FC Tucson. They included players from their mothership team FC Dallas as well as the FC Dallas academy. Interestingly, the list includes FC Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, who started 14 matches (including one in the U.S. Open Cup) for them last year.

HGTV fans may know Maurer from House Hunters International. He and his wife Kristen were featured on a 2012 episode after he signed to play for Universidad de Concepción and they needed to find an inexpensive rental in Chile.

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FC Tucson

FC Tucson forwards Zach Wright (left) and Devyn Jambga in training this week.