Finally! FC Tucson men earn home win vs. Charlotte Independence
Merancio takes shutout in team’s first home victory
Saturday night, Fernando García scored a goal in the 39th minute that ended up being the game-winner as FC Tucson recorded their fifth win of the season and, oddly, their first win in front of a crowd at Kino North Stadium.
The goal came after Kaelon Fox, playing in a central midfield role rather than in his usual spot in the defense, passed the ball through the traffic in front of the goal to García. García had to run the ball away from goal, turned and made what looked to be a clumsy shot. Tarn Weir tried to tip it in, but it had already passed the goal line.
Fox’s spot on the field was part of some tinkering that coach Jon Pearlman made to the line up. He went to a five-person backline, with Weir and Tyler Moss on the wings.
With the narrow lead, it fell to goalkeeper Carlos Merancio to have a strong game. Merancio’s first strong save came in the 17th minute when a stretch and dive blocked a shot from Charlotte midfielder Christopher Hegardt. In all, Merancio recorded 4 saves.
The stats for the match were the reverse of what we’ve seen from FC Tucson: they were out possessed (42-58) and out shot (12-15). But, the final score line is what matters and Pearlman admired what he called his team’s “gritty” performance. The performance was even more remarkable given that they had a match only four days before: a loss to Central Valley Fuego.
“It was a tough week,” he said after the match. “For them to come back after that unfortunate result, unfair result, and come back here and perform just shows you the character of this team. I’ve always said I’m so proud of that. I’m glad it was able to shine through tonight.”
The win still leaves the team in last place, but still with an outside chance at the playoffs. A stern test comes next week against league leading Omaha on Sunday at home.