COVID squeeze on Wildcat preconference season; MLS preseason still up in air
Pima alum Romero participates in inauguration ceremony
Wildcats get short prep time for PAC-12 matches
Playing in the spring rather than the fall has upended the usual preparation for the Arizona Wildcats’ PAC-12 matches. In a normal season, the coaching staff has a few matches the previous spring to prepare the players that are going to return, then a few fall matches to work in any freshmen and transfers.
Not so this year. It has been a week since the team’s first preliminary match against Grand Canyon University and they are halfway through their pre-conference schedule. It’s presented some challenges to coach Tony Amato, including having to bring more players into matches to see what they are capable of.
“We haven’t played a game in over a year,” he said. “We’ve had to look at players in different roles to see if they could get it done; see if they are ready now or need a lot of work.”
“We have a better idea of that and we’ll be able to build off that for the next two games,” he continued.
One thing that has made things hard is that the players don’t have the off-field socializing opportunities that would normally build camaraderie.
“This is the hardest year ever to be a freshman,” he said. “It’s really difficult on them, but they have done a good job so far.”
The Wildcats face New Mexico State on Saturday, with one more match before they start the conference schedule against Northern Arizona on February 20th.
They open their PAC-12 Schedule against UCLA on February 26. UCLA has not beaten the Wildcats since 2018.
MLS has start date, now what about preseason?
Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Association signed a collective bargaining agreement earlier this week. This ends the possibility of a lockout, but meant that the start of the season was delayed.
This also delayed preseason, a big part of which is usually hosted in Tucson. Now that the league has a start date (April 17), it is time to schedule a preseason.
FC Tucson, which usually organizes a preseason, is not yet giving details on the preseason or what teams will be coming (although perennials like Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City are likely). One thing that is sure though is that, per rules at Kino Sports Complex and Major League Soccer, any practices or matches will be closed to the general public.
Former Pima player takes part in Biden inauguration
Tucson High School alumna Aracely Romero played for the Pima College Aztecs from 2014 to 2016 and got a high honor last month.
Romero is now Senior Airman Romero in the U.S. Air Force and participated in the traditional wreath laying ceremony that was part of President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
Four of each military branch were selected to be present at the ceremony, held at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Romero recently got her promotion to senior airman through a competitive program called “Below the Zone” for promising young airmen.
Romero had been playing for her team on base, but is currently recovering from an ACL injury. She is studying to become a social worker while she continues her service.