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Soccer notes

FC Tucson's Schmitt signs with Phoenix FC

Plus: Fire scopes out Old Pueblo; U.S. Soccer makes another try at women's league

Former FC Tucson midfielder and defender Reid Schmitt has signed a professional contract with USL Pro Side Phoenix FC. Schmitt becomes the first former FC Tucson player to sign a professional contract since the team moved to the Premier Development League this past season.

“I'm just ecstatic about signing my first pro contract,” Schmitt said in a news release. “I truly believe my experience playing for FC Tucson helped me obtain this goal. Being in the PDL last year was a great stepping-stone to get me to the next level, especially under the professional coaching staff and facility that FC Tucson had to offer. I really enjoyed how committed the Tucson fans were towards our team and myself personally. Thank you Tucson for helping me achieve my life long dream.”

Schmitt was one of FC Tucson’s iron men during the 2012 season. He appeared in all 16 matches during the regular season and played a total of 1,175 minutes, the third-highest total on the team. Schmitt recorded one goal and two assists for a total of four points. Schmitt also started in FC Tucson’ lone playoff match, playing all 90 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Sounders FC U-23.

“We want to congratulate Reid for signing his first professional contract and for including FC Tucson as a part of his soccer journey,”said FC Tucson general manager Jon Pearlman. “From the very beginning our goal was to help young men achieve their ultimate goal of playing professional soccer and we're excited to start seeing that hard work pay off for Reid. We know he's going to be the first of many former FC Tucson players to play professionally.”

During the first nine matches of the season, Schmitt played as a midfielder. He recorded his first assist on June 14 in a 1-1 draw against the LA Misioneros in Tucson. It was against the Misioneros in Los Angeles on June 18 that Schmitt moved from the midfield to defense for the rest of the season. On July 11, he scored his first goal of the season six minutes into FC Tucson’ 4-2 win on the road against the Southern California Seahorses. During that match, he also recorded his second assist.

“It was a privilege to be Reid’s coach and watch him develop as a soccer player,”said FC Tucson head coach Rick Schantz. “It’s a bittersweet moment for me because on the one hand I’m losing an excellent player who was willing to play anywhere on the pitch for us. But overall I’m thrilled to see one of our own take the next step in his professional career. I know he's going to be great at the USL Pro level.”

The terms of Schmitt’s contract were not made public.

Other Tucsonenses have gotten a look from higher level teams. Dominic Papa played for FC Tucson during its time as an independent team and signed with the San Antonio Scorpions at the beginning of 2012. He returned to play for FC Tucson during in the early summer after being cut. Philippe Garre was called up as a tryout for both DC United and the San Jose Earthquakes, but didn't get an offer from either team. Last season's defensive lynchpin, Kareem Smith, made an appearance with the New England Revolution's reserve team after the close of FC Tucson's season. It must be noted that Smith was a capped player for Trinidad and Tobago with professional experience before he played for FC Tucson.

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One hopes that they will not be bringing Mrs. O'Leary's cow

At this week's press conference announcing the friendly match between Denmark and Canada at Kino Stadium, there was another visitor wearing a blue polo with what looked to be a fire department logo.

The visitor was Ron Stern, director of team operations for the Chicago Fire. The team may make a stop in Tucson during the nest preseason.

"We are looking ahead to 2014," Stern said. "We've heard great feedback from all the other teams that have been here."

The team has made appearances in the Phoenix area, including a 2009 preseason match with the Los Angeles Galaxy at Sun Devil Stadium. That game ended as a 1-1 tie and had an attendance of 8,614.

The Fire won an MLS Cup in its first year of existence in 1998. They have also won the U.S. Open Cup four times, the most of any MLS team. Last year, they finished with a 9-9-16 record which put them at 6th place in the Eastern Conference.

Third try is the charm, one hopes

U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati announced this week plans for a top flight women's soccer league that would begin play in the spring of next year.

The league has not yet been named, but it will include the Boston Breakers, Western New York Flash, Sky Blue FC and the Chicago Red Stars, all of which were members of the now defunct Women's Professional Soccer, which folded early this year. All of the teams continued playing by affiliating themselves with lower division leagues.

In addition, the league will include teams from Washington, Portland, Seattle, and Kansas City.

There is an important difference in the business model of the league compared to the two recent attempts to build a top flight women's league. The three North American federations: U.S., Canada and Mexico, have agreed to fund their top players if they choose to play in the league. U.S. Soccer will be funding 24 players, while Canada and Mexico will fund 16 and 12 respectively. The details of how this will work, along with the name of the league, haven't been given yet, but that could be up to fifty-two players, presumably the most talented and best paid, whose salaries will not be paid by the teams. In an eight-team league that could only have between 140 and 180 players, that's a significant expense that will be off of the books. In addition, the league's front office expenses will be handled by U.S. Soccer.

The federations get a place to develop players for three countries that currently have no first division league. The league gets to showcase the best talent from top level national teams.

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"I think immediately you’re going to see one of the best leagues in world," said Gulati on Wednesday's teleconference about the federations involved. "You’ve got three teams that have qualified for World Cups, have qualified in the last World Cup, and in the case of the U.S., obviously a multi-time medalist."

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Amanda Cain/TucsonSentinel.com

Reid Schmitt with the ball in a game against the Ogden Outlaws on July 8.