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Statesboro Blues: Errors & red card cost FC Tucson vs. Tormenta FC

'They watched us implode,' said coach Pearlman after the match

FC Tucson trying to build from their thrilling comeback victory against Chattanooga last week was going to be tough to do given their opponent on Saturday night at Kino North Stadium was Tormenta FC. The Statesboro, Ga., soccer team had only given up one goal in league play so far in the season.

In the end, the visitors scored two to FC Tucson’s none and coach Jon Pearlman was less than enthused after the match.

“One team came to play with the intensity that is required in this league at a professional level and one didn’t. It’s pretty simple,” he said after the match. “Not good enough from us. No discipline. I’ll own that. It’s all on me.”

Tormenta’s success this season has come, in part, from their compact defensive formation. In the first half, FC Tucson seemed to play right into the strengths of their opponent, attempting to run attacks through the middle of the field. Although neither team scored in the first half, Tormenta definitely had the better of things. Although FC Tucson keeper Carlos Merancio wasn’t called upon to make many saves in the first half, the team’s center backs blocked several shots.

In the second half, FC Tucson did a better job bringing the outside backs into the offense to widen the attack. However, it was Tormenta that hit the back of the net first. A pass from an FC Tucson defender went right to the feet of Tormenta’s Deshawon Nembhard. After a touch at midfield, he sent the ball to Adrian Billhardt, who rocketed the ball past Merancio just past the hour mark.

Evening up the match was still a big possibility, but Louie Pérez knocked the legs out from under Tormenta’s Alex Morell near the center line. He was already riding a yellow card, so he was ejected from the match and his team had to find a way back with 10 men on the field.

Tormenta retreated into a more defensive shape, giving Tucson a bit more of the ball in Tormenta’s final third. However, the home team conceded a corner kick late in the match. The kick, taken short, landed at the feet of Morell who dished it to Barry Sharifi, who easily got it past Merancio.

While Perez’s ejection might not have doomed the team, it was an indication of other problems.

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“Simply put, we just gave the game away,” said Pearlman after the match. “I don’t know why the energy is not there. The energy is there during training. There’s passion. There’s energy in the group, but it’s not translating to the field.”

“They watched us implode,” he added.

The team has another home match on Saturday against North Carolina FC. NCFC hasn’t won a match since their opener (ironically, a 1 - 0 over Tormenta).

Fox confessor brings the flood

One bright spot was Kaelon Fox. Fox, a midfielder and team captain, has been injured all season and saw his first on-field minutes on Saturday night. Pearlman noted that team staff had advised Fox only play 30 minutes in the match. Once he came on in minute 67, he provided a bit of spark to the team and in some moments riled up the crowd.

“That’s what leaders do,” said forward Deri Corfe. “They come on and try to make an impact…he’s trying to get a reaction out of the boys. Sometimes you need that, a bit of a (snaps fingers) a wake up and he brings that to the team.”

Pearlman said that Fox could be in the starting 11 on Saturday depending on how training goes over the week.

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Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.com

Tormenta players were quicker to the ball than their Tucson counterparts for long stretches of the match.

FC Tucson vs. Tormenta FC

Kino North Stadium

Scoring Summary
TRM - Aaron Billhardt (61’)
TRM - Billy Sharifi (84’)

Misconduct Summary
TUC - Billy Machell (caution, violent foul, 5’)
TUC - Louis Pérez (caution, dissent, 29’)
TUC - Pérez (second caution, ejection, violent foul, 62’)
TUC - Kaelon Fox (caution, violent foul, 77’)
TRM - Joshua Phelps (caution, unsporting behavior, 77’)
TRM - Arthur Bosua (caution, violent foul, 81’)

Line Ups
FC Tucson: Carlos Merancio - Tyler Moss, Tyler Allen, Luca Mastrantonio, Jacob Crull - Charlie Machell (Elijah Wynder 74’), Burke Fahling (Muengnenshime Goshit 84’), Daniel Bedoya (Kaelon Fox 67’) - Giovanni Calixtro (Yuki Shibata 66’), Louie Pérez, Deri Corfe

Tormenta FC: T. J. Bush - Curtis Thorne, Jake Dengler, Joshua Phelps (Owen Green 90’), Deshawon Nembhard - Adrian Billhardt (Josué Soto 74’), Christopher Heckenberg, Gabriel de Freitas, Jamil Roberts (Alex Morell 54’) - Kingsford Adjei (Barry Sharifi 54’), Arthur Bosua