Soccer: Last-minute goal ends FC Tucson's postseason hopes
Greenville not triumphant, but draw takes Los Tucsonenses out of contention
As Saturday night’s match at Kino North Stadium crawled into stoppage time, it looked as though FC Tucson was about to beat league-leading Greenville Triumph and maybe even earn a spot in the final.
Unfortunately for the home team, a last-minute goal from the Triumph’s Lachlan McClean earned his side a draw and eliminated the last chance for Tucson to make the final.
Greenville immediately showed why they have been at the top of the table for most of the season. Their crisp passing and confident possession denied FC Tucson any significant time on the ball for the first 15 minutes of the match.
An advantage call gave Greenville the room they needed to score their first. A collision between Tucson’s Esteban Calvo and Greenville’s Paul Clowes send the Triumph midfielder to the ground. Despite the hit, teammate Omar Mohamed recovered the ball and the referee allowed play to continue. Mohammed expertly sent the ball to McClean, who tapped it past Tucson keeper Carlos Merancio.
Despite the goal, Greenville players were angry that Calvo, who was shown a yellow after the play, wasn’t ejected. Despite some errant elbows and studs being shown over the next few plays, the players got their minds back on playing the game.
Up until the water break around the half-hour mark, FC Tucson’s offense caused so little disturbance that goalkeeper Dallas Jaye’s only action was coming of the goal line to smother an errant loose ball. After that water break, Tucson had more intensity. In those final 15 minutes of the half, Tucson kept Greenville from having any meaningful looks at goal, and more importantly, had five shots.
The last of those shots found home. As Erik Virgen and Roberto Alarcón batted the ball back and forth at the edge of the area, Josh Coan slipped into the box. Alarcón dished it off to his teammate who headed it past Jaye.
Tucson got the lead in the second half off a defensive error. Giovanni Ramos Godoy lingered in Greenville’s half when defender Lee passed the ball back to Jaye. Godoy took advantage of the lackadaisical pass and tried to kick it past Jaye, who was already far off his line. Jaye blocked the initial shot but in the struggle to control the ball, Godoy had just enough room to kick it past him and into the goal.
It was a rare defensive hiccup for a team that has earned nine shutouts.
Tucson held on for the next 40 minutes, but they were not able to extend the lead. Enticing chances from Niall Logue and Azaad Liadi were both saved by Jaye.
Logue ended up being a part of the equalizing goal. He cleared an attempt by Alex Morrell, but it went right to McClean who tipped it just past the post to recover a draw for Greenville.
A late shot by Elivelton went wide just before the final whistle blew.
With the COVID-19 reducing the playoffs to a single final match and Tucson now having no chance for any finish on the table higher than third, the draw eliminated them from postseason. The team takes on Orlando City B, a side they beat 4-1 in August, on Saturday at Kino for their last match.
There were some poor moments in the early part of the match to be sure, but FC Tucson played a strong match from the half-hour mark on. Still, there was a familiar problem.
“A little indicative of our season,” Galas said of the last 10 minutes of the match. “We get a chance to ice the game and kill it. Elivelton had a great opportunity; Azaad had a great opportunity. We don’t put those away…it’s unfortunate.”
“We had great momentum, great confidence good energy,” he said. “This is a tough team to get a point off. I’m disappointed with the result, but I’m pleased with the effort.”