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Former FC Tucson keeper Jaye makes it back to Kino, this time as a pro

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Former FC Tucson keeper Jaye makes it back to Kino, this time as a pro

Greenville goalie credits time in Tucson with pro career

  • FC Tucson keeper Dallas Jaye slide tackles a ball away from a Ventura County Fusion striker at Kino Stadium in 2014.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comFC Tucson keeper Dallas Jaye slide tackles a ball away from a Ventura County Fusion striker at Kino Stadium in 2014.

In 2013, Dallas Jaye had a dream of playing professional soccer. At the time, he was a freshman back-up keeper playing for the University of South Florida. He had the talent, he just needed a door opened to him. The Danville, California native found two doors: a spot on Guam’s national team and summers playing with FC Tucson.

“(I’m) the guy who didn’t really play a lot of college games and had some bleak opportunities when it came to being a pro,” he said. “To have Guam and FC Tucson really drove me in college…I credit that with my pro career today.”

Jaye played three seasons with FC Tucson, including in a run to the third round of the U.S. Open Cup in 2013. Jaye will be returning to Kino North Stadium on Saturday night, this time wearing the jersey of the Greenville Triumph.

Where FC Tucson has only the slimmest chance of making this year’s final, Greenville’s place is already after already having 10 wins in the COVID-19 shortened season. Nine of those wins plus a tie, Jaye would probably point out, were by shut out.

“Knowing you are in the final three weeks in advance is a unique situation,” he said of this year’s one-game post season. “You have your eyes set on that…we’ve patted ourselves on the back, but right now let’s go to Tucson to continue our road form and earn the right to host.”

They have a strong motivation to continue their good form despite their sure place in the final. Last season, Greenville fought their way into the final and held off North Texas. Thirty minutes from the end of the match, North Texas scored and Greenville was unable to equalize. They are the only semifinalist in the league’s short history, and it’s not a distinction they’d like to continue.

“We brought back that core group of players that has a chip on their shoulder and unfinished business to take care of,” he said. “Combine that with some great new additions…[coach] John Harkes and his staff…we are set up for success.”

It’s the second time in his career that Jaye is being coached by John Harkes, who Jaye played under in his first season as a pro with FC Cincinnati in 2015.

“I am forever indebted to him for starting off my professional career and looking after me the way he does,” he said of Harkes, who had a 13 year pro career in the U.S. and England and earned 90 caps for the U.S. national team. “It’s a unique experience. He’s definitely a player’s manager. You can learn so much for him in the stories he tells. You know he’s been there and done it all…one of the best American players.”

The other John (or Jon) that Jaye credits is FC Tucson’s Jon Pearlman. Pearlman was the man that made Jaye the initial offer to come to FC Tucson in 2013 at a time when Jaye admits there weren’t a lot of other offers.

“You come across so many guys in soccer, there are some that stick. That was a relationship that stuck,” he said. “He looked after me when I was a young kid…always honest with me…wanted me back for three straight years.”

“He’s been a guy who off seasons helps contact clubs, wishes you a happy birthday. He was the first one to call me when we made the finals last year,” he said. “One of the good guys in soccer.”

Still, there’s a game to win.

“I got to give him a hug today out on the training field. I had to shoo him away,” he said. “We were going to start to do some stuff he couldn’t watch because we were getting ready to beat him.”

The match starts at 7:30 p.m. at Kino North Stadium. Because of COVID-19 precautions, the stadium will be closed, but the team is inviting fans to a home match viewing at El Toro Flicks at 198 S. Granada Ave. It will also be broadcast on ESPN+.

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