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U.S. Open Cup soccer

FC Tucson loses Open Cup match to Cal United

Tucson team fails to build on early goal from Calixtro

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Tucson forward Yuki Shibata takes a shot in the second half. - Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.com

FC Tucson ended their run in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night at Kino North Stadium with a 2-1 loss to California United Strikers FC.

A quick pass in minute 17 from FC Tucson’s Burke Fahling found Giovanni Calixtro, who was just outside the area. It took some work on Calixtro’s part to lose defender Garreth Hogbin, but when he made his shot he found home and opened the scoring.

FC Tucson had the bulk of chances until into the second half, but play in the offensive side of the field became sloppier. Slowly, Cal United started getting more of the ball.

Cal United’s scoring star over the last few seasons has been Omar Nuño. One of the reasons for Cal United’s slow start in their league has been that Nuño hasn’t been scoring. That drought ended in minute 71 when he received a pass from deep in his team’s defensive third. He quickly lost his marker and took a shot past FC Tucson’s Carlos Merancio.

After that Cal United looked like the confident home side, but the second goal didn’t come right away. FC Tucson coach Jon Pearlman put Charlie Machell and Daniel Bloyou in the match in anticipation of extra time.

The extra time didn’t come, as Cal’s Ryotaro Kawashima, in his first game for the team, was left unmarked in the box. A quick flick found the back of the net and earned his team a trip to the fourth round.

After the match, Pearlman said that the team was already looking forward to this weekend’s contest against Chattanooga Red Wolves. Still, he had a few reflections on the match.

“I was pleased with the second half compared to the first,” he said. “I’m very displeased how we closed the game out. I’m disappointed with the guys because we lost an opportunity… when you are one-nothing in the 70th minute on your home field you are expected to close it out.”

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Cal United has so far won two Open Cup matches, while in league play they have one win and two scoreless draws. The results could do a lot for a demoralized team.

“The guys were a little down. It’s frustrating. We haven’t scored a lot of goals and that weighs on you,” said Cal United coach Don Ebert. “Omar’s goal changed everything. The belief came back.”

“When you are struggling scoring goals, the team is fragile,” he said of his talks with his team. “When you kick them up the butt, you can lose a few of them...I was very positive.”

Interestingly, both teams have had their struggles. Ebert admitted that his team was only at “70 percent” and Pearlman noted that they are still trying to work in new players and compensating for injuries.

“Hard lessons are learned,” he said. “Any experience we are going to have in front of our fans in front of a quality side like Cal United is going to be a teaching moment for us.”

FC Tucson continues league play on Saturday in Chattanooga against the Red Wolves.

Cupsets: Omaha puts out the Fire

In a stunning result, Union Omaha won in penalty kicks against MLS side Chicago Fire. It wasn’t the usual “lower division team plays a defensive match” either. Omaha scored two in the run of play, while both of Chicago’s goals came off of penalty kicks.

Other “cupsets,” where lower division teams beat higher ones, included third-tier Detroit City FC taking down 2020 MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew and South Georgia Tormenta beating USL Championship side Birmingham Legion.

Third round play continues on Wednesday night, including the only Arizona team left in the tournament, Phoenix Rising, playing against New Mexico United.

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FC Tucson vs. California United Strikers FC

Kino North Stadium

Scoring Summary
TUC - Giovanni Calixtro (17’)
CUS - Omar Nuño (71’)
CUS - Ryotaro Kawashima (90’+)

Misconduct Summary
CUS - Roy Kurtz (caution, violent foul, 45’+)

FC Tucson: Carlos Merancio - Tyler Moss, Luca Mastrantonio, Jake Crull, Tarn Weir - Burke Fahling (Charlie Machell 90’), Mueng Sunday (Elijah Wynder 69’), Louis Perez - Yuki Shibata (Daniel Bloyou 90’), Giovanni Calixtro (Daniel Bedoya 69’), Deri Corfe
California United Strikers FC: Steven Barrera - Brady Treinen (Gonzalo Salguero 81’), Aydan Bowers, Garreth Hogbin, Ray Kurtz - Alex Vedarmanikam (Gustavo Villalobos 45’), Tony Lopez (Shinya Kadono 76’), Felipe Liborio, Shane Kaemerle (Christian Thierjung 63’) - Marcus Lee (Ryotaro Kawashima 63’), Omar Nuño