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FC Tucson soccer's Spence: 'We can go at these guys'

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Soccer notes

FC Tucson soccer's Spence: 'We can go at these guys'

Team takes on SoCal Seahorses in first home match this weekend

  • FC Tucson players practice on Kino Sports Complex, which they will play for their first home match Saturday.
    FC TucsonFC Tucson players practice on Kino Sports Complex, which they will play for their first home match Saturday.

At Thursday morning practice, FC Tucson defender Conor Spence got something that wouldn't always be expected of a player at his level in American soccer: an interview with a local TV station.

The hype surrounding the recent Desert Diamond Cup hasn't worn off, Spence said, and it's good for his team as they get set for their first home match against the Southern California Seahorses at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Kino Stadium.

"I think it's tremendous having all the big players like David Beckham and Thierry Henry coming in," he said in comments after his television interview. "It helps us get a fan base and spreads the word for FC Tucson."

Spence has been paired with fellow defender Kareem Smith in the middle of the back line. The two kept the score manageable against Major League Soccer teams in preseason and secured a shut-out victory over Pali Blues on May 12.

Smith has made five appearances for Trinidad and Tobago, starting in three matches for the Soca Warriors, and has played for teams in both Europe and the Caribbean. Spence finds Smith's experience invaluable for both he and the team.

"He's keeping the guys focused; always encouraging them," he said. "If Kareem is yelling at them, they crumble a little bit. They don't want to mess up for him."

Saturday's match will bring back a familiar face for Spence: Dominic Papa. Papa and Spence both grew up in Phoenix and have played together before. Papa has been a defender in the past, but whether he'll be on the back line or further up field has yet to be decided.

Spence and the team have not had a chance to get the measure of the Seahorses, and he admits to not knowing exactly what to expect. Still, he has a prediction: "We haven't been at home yet; we'd like to take it to them," he said. "We're used to playing in the heat. We can go at these guys."

23 hours of glory

Last Saturday's win rocketed FC Tucson to second place in the PDL's Southwestern division. Second place is pretty good for a team that's new to the league. Also, the first place team was undefeated last season.

It wasn't to last. The next day, the Los Angeles Misioneros defeated the Ventura County Fusion, putting them in a solid second place, two points ahead of FC Tucson.

FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz still sees accomplishment buried in the math.

"We have three games in hand and we're even with the Misoneros," he said.

Not quite even, but the Misioneros have 5 points in five games, where Tucson has earned 3 points in two games. It looks pretty good after you do the division.

Schantz looks forward to this weekend's match that starts a stretch of three league games at home.

"If we win these three games, we've set the season."

Nine extra points, that's pretty good if it works out.

3rd round Open Cup pairings announced

The 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is already underway. The long-running soccer tournament is unique in American sports because it includes teams from all levels — from amateur up to professional.

U.S. Soccer, which administers the tournament, announced the pairings for the third round, the first one that includes Major League Soccer teams.

Two of FC Tucson's PDL Southwestern Conference foes are still in the tournament and now know who they will face off against should they survive the second round next week.

The Fresno Fuego won their match against Stanislaus United Turlock Express on Tuesday by a score of 2-0. The Express, a team of the sons of local farmworkers, was the first team from U.S. Club soccer, the lowest division of soccer in the United States, ever to qualify for the tournament. Fresno will face the San Jose Earthquakes if they defeat the second-division Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Tuesday .

The Ventura County Fusion also have a match next week against the third-division Los Angeles Blues. Should they win that match, they are slated to go up against CD Chivas USA.

The tournament has been in existence since 1914. Although there have been many lower division teams that have defeated MLS teams in the tournament, only one — the Rochester Raging Rhinos in 1999 — has won the final since MLS started entering teams.

FC Tucson schedule

Unless otherwise noted, all times are at 7 p.m., Tucson time. (Bold indicates home games at Kino Sports Complex, at 3600 S. Country Club Road)

Tickets for FC Tucson's first home game can be purchased from FC Tucson's website, Ticketforce, or by calling (877) 840-0457.

  • May 5 - Fresno Fuego 2 - FC Tucson 1
  • May 12 - Pali Blues 0 - FC Tucson 1
  • Saturday - Southern California Seahorses
  • May 23 - Phoenix Monsoon (friendly)
  • May 26 -Pali Blues
  • June 2 - Fresno Fuego
  • June 5 - at BYU Cougars
  • June 7 - at Ogden Outlaws, 5 p.m.
  • June 14 - Los Angeles Misioneros
  • June 16 - at Ventura County Fusion
  • June 23 - Orange County Blue Star
  • June 30 - Ventura County Fusion
  • July 6 - BYU Cougars
  • July 8 - Ogden Outlaws
  • July 11 - Southern California Seahorses
  • July 14 - at Orange County Bluestar, 5 p.m

PDL Team of the Week

Southwest Division teams are in bold.

  • GK - Robert Muller, Texas Dutch Lions
  • D - Andrew Farrell, IMG Bradenton Academics
  • D - Jonathan Campbell, Carolina Dynamo
  • D - Kareem Morad, Los Angeles Misioneros
  • M - Iyassa Bekele, Nashville Metros
  • M - Kyle Johnson, Kitsap Pumas
  • M - Don Smart, Fredericksburg Hotspur
  • F - Alencar Junior, Worchester Hydra
  • F - Husef Jupic, Des Moines Menace, PDL Player of the Week
  • F - Mark Sherrod, Portland Timbers U-23
  • F - Stefan Dimitrov, Brooklyn Knights
  • Honorable mention: Tony Rocha (M - Austin Aztex), William Morse (F - Austin Aztex), Karo Okiomah ( F - Carolina Dynamo), Donnie Smith (D - Carolina Dynamo), Jesse Menzies (M - CFC Azul), Lebogang Moloto (M - Des Moines Menace), Enrique Cervantes (M - El Paso Patriots), Marco Lobo (F - IMG Bradenton Academics), Patrick Toh (F - IMG Bradenton Academics), Stephen Mohn (D - Kitsap Pumas), Andrew Chamberlain (F - Nashville Metros), Dritan Sela (F - New Jersey Rangers FC), Carlos Tenorio De Araujo (F - Ocala Stampede), Christian Ramirez (F - Orange County Blue Star), Luke Perry (M - Palmetto FC Bantams), Reed Matte (D - Portland Timbers U-23), Emery Welshman (F - Portland Timbers U-23), Greg Cochrane (D - Reading United AC), Doug Herrick (GK - Seattle Sounders U-23), Stephen Millage (D - Southern West Virginia King's Warriors), Austin Brown (D - Texas Dutch Lions), Oliver Ortiz (F - Texas Dutch Lions), Travis Sanchez (FC Tucson), Matt Mehrassa (D - Victoria Highlanders FC), Ashley Burbeary (F - Victoria Highlanders FC), John Koshko (D - VSI Tampa Flames), Kenny Hogg (F - VSI Tampa Flames), Jake Keegan (F - Westchester Flames)

Premier Development League

Western Conference, Southwest Division Standings

Fresno Fuego1041046
LA Misioneros FC5559-4
FC Tucson3222(0)
Orange County Blue Star3333(0)
Pali Blues1212-1
Southern California Sea Horses11(0)(0)(0)
Ventura County Fusion1212-1
Ogden Outlaws(0)(0)(0)(0)(0)
BYU Cougars(0)(0)(0)(0)(0)

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup pairings

Second round pairings (All games scheduled for May 22. PDL teams in bold.)

  • Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. Michigan Bucks
  • Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Long Island Rough Riders
  • Wilmington Hammerheads vs. Cal FC
  • Carolina RailHawks vs. PSA Elite
  • Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Fresno Fuego
  • Orlando City SC vs. KC Athletics
  • Charleston Battery vs. Reading United AC
  • Rochester Rhinos vs. Brooklyn Italians
  • Jacksonville United vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
  • DS Aegean Hawks FC vs. Richmond Kickers
  • Georgia Revolution vs. Atlanta Silverbacks
  • San Antonio Scorpions vs. Laredo Heat
  • Chicago Fire PDL vs. Dayton Dutch Lions
  • Des Moines Menace vs. Minnesota Stars FC
  • El Paso Patriots vs. Charlotte Eagles
  • Los Angeles Blues vs. Ventura County Fusion

Third round pairings(All games scheduled for May 29. PDL teams in bold.)

  • Houston Dynamo vs. winner of Laredo Heat/San Antonio
  • Chicago Fire vs.winner of Michigan Bucks/Pittsburgh
  • Sporting Kansas City vs. winner of K.C. Athletics/Orlando City
  • DC United vs. winner of Richmond/Hawks
  • Columbus Crew vs. winner of Dayton/Chicago Fire PDL
  • FC Dallas vs. winner of Charlotte/El Paso Patriots
  • San Jose Earthquakes vs. winner of Fresno Fuego/Fort Lauderdale
  • Philadelphia Union vs. winner of Brooklyn/Rochester
  • New England Revolution vs. winner of Long Island Rough Riders/Harrisburg
  • New York Red Bulls vs. winner of Reading United AC/Charleston
  • CD Chivas USA vs. winner of Ventura County Fusion/LA Blues
  • Los Angeles Galaxy vs. winner of PSA/Carolina
  • Colorado Rapids vs. winner of Tampa Bay/Jacksonville
  • Portland Timbers FC vs. winner of Cal FC/Wilmington
  • Seattle Sounders FC vs. winner of Altanta/Georgia
  • Real Salt Lake vs. winner of Minnesota/Des Moines Menace

Courtesy Visit the site for a complete bracket.

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