FC Tucson severs ties with Phoenix Rising, bought by LA businessman
Appearance in Open Cup, women's team both in offing for 2021
FC Tucson has been bought by Brett Johnson, a Los Angeles businessman, with the United Soccer League franchise being transferred from Phoenix Rising FC.
“I’ve always loved Tucson and been inspired by the culture of soccer here,” said Johnson in a statement released by the team Thursday. “This town deserves a truly independent club built around the dynamic culture and ethos of this community. Tucson’s support of the MLS preseason, the many years of success as an amateur team in the USL League 2, the 2019 transition to professional play in USL League One, and an affiliation with one of the largest youth soccer clubs in Tucson are clear indicators that Tucson is a market ready to support their own pro team. With last year’s arrival of a new club President, Amanda Powers, it’s the start of a new decade for professional soccer in Tucson, and I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to be involved.”
Johnson is a founder of Fortuitous Partners, a real estate management and investment firm. He was one of the founding owners of the Phoenix team.
The transfer ends FC Tucson’s three-year affiliation with the Phoenix soccer club. Although FC Tucson became a fully professional team in that time, a “farm team” style arrangement with Rising in the 2019 season earned Tucson its only losing season in its decade of existence. The team was granted more autonomy over day-to-day coaching decisions and a new front office mission under Powers for the 2020 season.
When asked how long this was in the works, Powers said, “A while.”
“Brett has had a big idea for Tucson and he shared that big idea with me in 2019,” she said. “I believe in it... he believes in the potential for soccer in Tucson.”
Johnson’s previous involvement with soccer includes being a founding partner of Phoenix Rising FC as well as a recent appointment to the board of FC Helsingør, a Danish club playing in the second flight of soccer there.
FC Tucson back in Open Cup
One big change for longtime followers of FC Tucson and American soccer in general will be that FC Tucson will again be eligible for the U.S. Open Cup. The affiliation from Phoenix meant they couldn’t play in the 107-year-old competition. FC Tucson made a deep run in the tournament in 2013, making it to the third round before being beaten by the Houston Dynamo.
The cup begins on May 4 after a hiatus due to COVID-19.
Women to take field this year
Powers also noted that FC Tucson will be fielding a women’s team this year. The Women’s Premiere Soccer League, the league that FC Tucson competes in, took a COVID-induced break last year. Powers said that she will be having a meeting Friday to discuss this year’s women’s season.