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Roster woes continue as FC Tucson travels to Piedmont

Fox, Shaw continue to be worked back into team, but other starters unavailable

It hasn’t been the best start for FC Tucson’s season. But, an optimist might point out that they are undefeated on the road.

Of course, there is quite a small sample size.

On Sunday, FC Tucson will play in Charlotte against the Independence. It is only the second away match for Los Tucsonenses in 2022. The team is looking for their first points since April 23. They are at the bottom of the USL League One Table.

“They are frustrated,” said Jonathan Pearlman of the team. “They are disappointed in themselves…we can’t be imploding the way we have…I can list the atrocities; they are numerous and self-inflicted.”

The problem has been that too many of the team’s starters have been unavailable due to injury or other issues. Pearlman reckons that at least four starters have been out for each of the team’s five matches so far (plus two Open Cup games). Sunday’s game will feature the eighth line-up of the team.

One place that this has been acute is at the back. Kaelon Fox is being worked back into the line-up, but Tarn Weir is still out. This has meant some players playing unfamiliar roles which has contributed to FC Tucson not doing the thing that they had been so good at under Pearlman’s tenure: holding on to the ball. Postgame stats would routinely show FC Tucson in possession for 60% even for losses last season. Last Saturday’s match against North Carolina had FC Tucson at 37%.

FC Tucson’s Sunday opponent has won only two matches so far, but that puts them in fifth place in a league with a young season and a lot of parity. Charlotte is coached by former Dallas Burn skipper Mike Jeffries, who also did turns as part of Bob Bradley’s staff at both the Chicago Fire and the U.S. men’s national team.

Charlotte pulled off an impressive performance at the end of April with a 2 - 1 comeback win over Union Omaha. Last week’s match with Tormenta FC was a quieter affair, with neither team able to score and Charlotte goalkeeper Adrián Zendejas only being called upon to make two saves.

As for FC Tucson, Fox and midfielder Tevin Shaw are traveling with the team, but both are still on limited minutes and aren’t expected to start. Louis Perez will be returning to the roster after a suspension for an on-field incident in the match against Tormenta two weeks ago.

Results so far are frustrating for players and fans, but Pearlman is being patient.

“It’s early days,” said Pearlman. “We just need a couple of good moments…We can only get better by playing. I am undeterred.”

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Curtis Dutiel

FC Tucson in a loss last week to North Carolina.