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FC Tucson doomed by late penalty kick

Early goal by Corfe erased by second half drop-off

FC Tucson dropped another match at home on Saturday night, losing 2 - 1 to bottom-ranked North Carolina FC.

Tucson got on the board with an early goal. Daniel Bedoya ran the ball into the box and crossed it to Deri Corfe who took only one touch to drive it past Carolingian keeper Will Pulisic, cousin of U.S. National team player Christian Pulisic.

Subsequent attempts by Bedoya and Corfe didn’t find home, and the half ended with Tucson holding a slim one-goal lead. The second half opened with a strong chance from Charlie Machell, whose shot hit the crossbar.

Momentum had clearly shifted to North Carolina and they started to have serious looks at Tucson’s goal. In minute 69, Oalex Anderson passed the ball to Jaden Servania who managed a run from North Carolina’s side of the field all the way to the edge of Tucson’s penalty area. His shot beat goalkeeper Carlos Merancio and tied up the match.

As the match entered stoppage time, it looked like FC Tucson would settle for a tie. Servania got the ball to the top of the box, and the usually level-headed Burke Fahling stopped him with a two-footed tackle. The foul happened just a few feet in front of the referee who pointed to the penalty spot.

Responsibility for the penalty kick fell to Anderson. He shot it to Merancio’s right, but the Tucson keeper anticipated well and dove to that side. Still, the shot was just inches past his fingers.

The last minute goal meant that FC Tucson has fallen to last place in the standings, a position previously held by North Carolina.

Aftermath

Midfielder Burke Fahling put in a solid game. He didn’t have much in the way of offensive stats, but he logged 42 passes and had 72% accuracy.

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Even with that decent performance, he acknowledged that one action of his cost the team.

“Tired legs and I lost my feet,” he said after the match. “It's something we’ve got to deal with and move on from.”

“This definitely feels worse,” he added, referencing the loss to Tormenta last week.

“Worse” because the team had started so strong and couldn’t hold on.

“In the second half, I just felt like there was never a time that we controlled the ball,” said coach Jon Pearlman. “We could have forced them to chase a bit more.”

One thing that hurt the team was that both center backs spent most of the second half on yellow cards, making them reluctant to do “professional fouls” that would stymie North Carolina’s attack. Also, the possession-oriented FC Tucson was limited to only having the ball 38% of the time.

That said, Pearlman is ready to move on.

“We’ve got to go to Charlotte; we’ve got to get some points,” he said. “We’ve got to stop the bleeding.”

The match in Charlotte is scheduled for Sunday, May 15. The team returns home for a match against Richmond on Friday, May 20.

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Curtis Dutiel

Deri Corfe fights North Carolina's captain Jordan Skelton for the ball.