FC Tucson looks to rebound from weekend trouncing with Open Cup match
Wednesday-night opponent looks to bounce back from poor 2021; Musovsky returns to Kino
There was no way to gloss over Saturday’s loss that FC Tucson had at Richmond. Returning keeper Carlos Merancio had to pick the ball out of the back of his net four times and the team finished the game with only 10 players on the field.
It was not the most auspicious 2022 debut for Los Tucsonenses, coach Jon Pearlman admitted after the match. The team was without the injured Deri Corfe and Kaelon Fox, and had to count on less experienced players.
“There were critical errors from young players,” he said. “We fielded a new team that hasn’t been to Richmond and hasn’t had the chance to play in front of 4000 fans. You saw that in the mistakes that were made… it was absolutely unacceptable.”
If a fan wanted to look for some positives in the match, FC Tucson was able to play their possession game well; postgame stats showed that the Men in Black had the ball nearly 65 percent of the time. The team also generated as many shots on goal as Richmond did.
It’s a bit to build on, albeit the team has a quick turnaround as they start their U.S. Open Cup campaign on Wednesday.
It’s the oldest continuous cup tournament…wait, scratch that
The U.S. Open Cup has been played since 1914, putting it on par with the English FA Cup in terms of longevity. Like the FA Cup, the tournament pits teams of all levels against each other. A semi-pro or amateur side can earn the chance to play against a pro team. FC Tucson did this in 2013, when, as a semi-pro team in those days, they beat two professional sides before eventually succumbing to MLS’s Houston Dynamo in the third round.
FC Tucson also missed out on a couple of Open Cup opportunities as well since rules prevented the team from participating while they were owned by Phoenix Rising FC. Given that, this will be the first time the team will have participated in the tournament since 2018.
FC Tucson made it to the second round of the tournament that year, and despite goals from locals Jason Romero and A. J. Valenzuela, ended their tournament run with a 4 - 2 loss to Las Vegas Lights.
It’s not a big coincidence since matchups in early rounds are largely determined by geography, but FC Tucson will again be facing the Las Vegas Lights in the Open Cup this year as they open the competition on Wednesday.
FC Tucson is fully professional now, but Las Vegas plays in the higher USL Championship division. They are still underdogs, and doing well in the tournament is a goal for lower level pro sides as much as it is for the amateurs.
“It’s an opportunity to get additional experience,” said Pearlman. “When you play higher leagues, it’s a great audition opportunity for them.”
Las Vegas boasts of one of the better attacking trios in the league in league scoring leader Daniel Trejo, Cal Jennings and former FC Tucson player Danny Musovski. The team had a poor 2021 season (only six wins) and Tucson will be their first professional opponent in three runs in the U.S. Open Cup.
Tucson will likely again be without Corfe and Fox, but Giovanni Calixtro, who had five shots against Richmond, will be available. Daniel Bedoya, who made the league’s Team of the Week despite the loss against the Kickers, is also expected to appear.
The match kicks off Wednesday at Kino North Stadium at 7:30 p.m.