One point for the road: FC Tucson ties league champs
Early red stymies North Texas; Elivelton scores another off header
FC Tucson has not been lighting the league on fire, but there have been good performances about which the score lines don’t necessarily tell the whole story. Last Saturday, the team showed that they could match up well with league champions North Texas SC even though they lost the match 2 – 0.
A confident Tucson soccer side traveled to Arlington on Saturday night with lessons still fresh and knowing that they could go toe-to-toe with North Texas. They almost pulled off a win that would have put them tantalizingly close to the top of the table.
North Texas is third in the league in scoring in the first 15 minutes. Although they managed a great deal of offensive possession, FC Tucson’s defense managed to keep them from scoring. Goalkeeper Amal Knight and center back Niall Logue combined to break up the Texans best chance, a shot from Arturo Rodriguez. Tucson’s best chance came after a pass from midfield by Erik Virgen found an onrushing Shak Adams. Adams got past the defense, but his shot went straight to goalkeeper Carlos Avilez.
The match shifted in minute 21. North Texas’s Edwin Cerrillo And Tucson’s Charlie Dennis battled for the ball near midfield. Once the ball had been cleared downfield, Dennis made it clear to Cerrillo that he didn’t appreciate his technique. Cerrillo responded with a headbutt worthy of Zinedine Zidane, and Dennis went down like Marco Materazzi.
Once referee Gloria Resendiz had sorted things out, Dennis earned a yellow card, and Cerrillo was ejected.
Despite being up a man, it took FC Tucson until the closing moments of the half to score a goal. The responsibility fell to Brazilian player Elivelton, who scored off a header for the second straight match.
North Texas elected to make few tactical changes at the half and continued to press and spent a lot more time in the final third than a team down a man would be expected to. In minute 71, midfielder Dominick Hernandez slipped into the box and some tricky footwork gave him a look at goal. His shot surprised Knight and tied the game up.
Instead of bunkering to end the match in a tie, North Texas continued to attack. Despite the offense from North Texas and FC Tucson trying to take advantage of the gaps that it left, neither team was able to score a winner.
It’s another quick turnaround for FC Tucson as they face Forward Madison FC at home on Wednesday night. The “Go’s,” as they are called by some fans, are tied with 7th place FC Tucson on points but are in 6th place due to goal differential.
After the match, coach John Galas saw the result against the league champion as a positive.
“We were satisfied to a point, no pun intended,” he said. “Three games in seven days then a match against a team that beat us 2 – 0 at home, to get a point on the road is excellent.”
Both soccer teams needed three points to get back into playoff contention as the second half of the season rolls on.
“The boys are disappointed because three points would have put us in fifth place, five points from the playoff spot with a game in hand with Chattanooga,” he said. “It was looking good. But again, all positive for securing a point against a team that plays really good football.”
FC Tucson largely shut down some of North Texas’s more dangerous offensive players. Neither of the team’s leading scorers, Beni Redžić and Ronaldo Damus, registered a shot on goal. Arturo Rodríguez, back from a loan to USL Championship side Real Monarchs SLC, was limited to two shots.
“We had to defend with integrity,” he said. “That was the goal.”