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Omaha plus own goal equal another FC Tucson loss at home

Pearlman: Defense 'outstanding' despite loss

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FC Tucson's Noah Franke expresses his frustration with the ref. - Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.com

FC Tucson hoped to stop the losing streak they are on when they faced off with number two Union Omaha at Kino Stadium on Saturday night. A mistake on the back line, however, gave them another loss.

The first half likely left both coaches unsatisfied. Omaha has been a team that generates few shots despite their winning record, but neither soccer side logged a shot on goal in the first frame. That did not stop either team from scoring, however. Omaha’s Damià Viader made a cross and Tucson’s Mohamed Kone tried to intercept it and instead knocked it into his own goal to put Omaha on the board in the 18th minute.

Some spark came to both the Tucson offense and the game with a 63rd-minute substitution that brought in offensive stalwarts Shak Adams, Giovanni Calixtro and Deri Corfe. Charlie Dennis, kept out of the starting line up due to recovery from illness (non-COVID, team staff noted), was brought in a few minutes later. Half of the shots from FC Tucson came after these four players were brought on.

Even with a more productive offense, the team was still unable to find the back of the net. The dull match ended 1 - 0 in favor of the visitors.

FC Tucson next flies off to Florida to play a match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on August 22.

Inch, second

One thing that FC Tucson did well is they kept Omaha from getting a lot of chances. Goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley only had a single shot from a Union player to save. After the match, coach Jon Pearlman called the defense “outstanding.” He particularly pointed to the play of Kaelon Fox and, even with the own goal, Mohamed Kone.

The trouble was with the rest of the play. Asked why FC Tucson couldn’t score, especially in those last thirty minutes, Pearlman had an uncharacteristically short reply.

“We keep shooting it at the goalkeeper,” he said.

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He acknowledged, however, that it wasn’t just the final shot. He talked about a near chance late in the match where communication broke down between Shak Adams and Giovanni Calixtro while Omaha’s goalkeeper was distracted.

“That moment is the story of the season,” he said. “That little inch, second span.”

Pearlman acknowledged that his players have the skills, but playing as a unit and playing off the ball is a problem, particularly among his offensive corps.

“Omaha has two-way guys. Greg Hurst when he doesn’t have the ball; Boyce puts in a shift when he doesn’t have the ball,” Pearlman said, noting two of Omaha’s forwards that are among the best in the league. “They run; they tackle; they drive. They are not a luxury team...you lay off of them for a second and they punish you.”

One bright spot was the performance of a player newly promoted from the FC Tucson academy, Brandon Sanchez. The seventeen year-old student at Canyon del Oro High School played 63 minutes at midfield for the team.

“I’ve seen him since he was 11 years old,” Pearlman said. “I’ve watched him grow and develop as a top player. He earned his way up...it’s the most pleasing thing about the game. He’s going to have a great career.”

Sanchez was put in as a defensive midfielder, when he usually plays a more offensive role.

“I felt pretty comfortable. I was really half and half between the six (defensive midfield) and eight (central midfield),” said Sanchez. “It wasn’t much adjusting, just a different pace, different intensity.”

“It was exciting,” said Sanchez of his first moments playing with pros. “I’m pretty proud of myself. It was amazing to be out there in front of my friends and family.”

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FC Tucson vs. Union Omaha

Kino North Stadium

Scoring Summary
OMA - Mohamed Kone (18’ og)

Misconduct Summary
TUC - Alex Knox (caution, violent foul, 58’)
OMA - Tobias Otieno (caution, violent foul, 59’)
OMA - Damià Viader (caution, violent foul, 75’)
OMA - Connor Doyle (caution, dissent, 80’)

Line-ups:
FC Tucson: Wallis Lapsley - Alex Knox (Giovanni Calixtro 63’), Maximiliano Schenfeld, Kaelon Fox, Luca Mastrantonio - Mohamed Kone, Brandon Sanchez (Shak Adams 63’), Daniel Bedoya - João Delgado (Charlie Dennis 72’), Tobenna Uzo (Deri Corfe 63’), Noah Franke

Union Omaha: Rashid Nuhu - Ferrety Sousa, Damià Viader, Daityn Knutson, Jake Crull - John Scearce, Connor Doyle (Blake Malone 80’), Tobias Otieno, Elma N’For (Nicolas Firmino 73’) - Emir Alihozdic (Devin Boyce 45’), Greg Hurst (Ricardo Rivera 80’)