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Rodriguez earns brace in rare start as FC Tucson takes out Tormenta FC
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Rodriguez earns brace in rare start as FC Tucson takes out Tormenta FC

Local team back in top half of table after victory over South Georgia club

  • FC Tucson goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley pushes a shot over the bar late in the match to maintain the 3-1 scoreline.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comFC Tucson goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley pushes a shot over the bar late in the match to maintain the 3-1 scoreline.
  • FC Tucson's new Senegalese forward Alioune Diakhate got a late runout against the South Georgia Tormenta.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comFC Tucson's new Senegalese forward Alioune Diakhate got a late runout against the South Georgia Tormenta.
  • Tormenta goalkeeper Pablo Jara watches as Charlie Dennis's late free kick settles into the back of the net.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comTormenta goalkeeper Pablo Jara watches as Charlie Dennis's late free kick settles into the back of the net.
  • Tucson players celebrate Kevin Rodriguez's second goal of the night.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comTucson players celebrate Kevin Rodriguez's second goal of the night.
  • FC Tucson midfielder Kevin Rodríguez sends Nicholas O'Callaghan sliding past him at the edge of the box.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comFC Tucson midfielder Kevin Rodríguez sends Nicholas O'Callaghan sliding past him at the edge of the box.
  • South Georgia's defenders resorted to fouling Kevin Rodríguez when they were unable to stop him legally.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comSouth Georgia's defenders resorted to fouling Kevin Rodríguez when they were unable to stop him legally.
  • Tucson forward Shak Adams uses his pace to get around a Tormenta defender.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comTucson forward Shak Adams uses his pace to get around a Tormenta defender.
  • Tucson midfielder Charlie Dennis takes a free kick in the second half.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comTucson midfielder Charlie Dennis takes a free kick in the second half.
  • Tucson's Charlie Dennis on the ball.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comTucson's Charlie Dennis on the ball.
  • Tucson forward Shak Adams is sent flying by Tormenta defender Nicholas O'Callaghan.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comTucson forward Shak Adams is sent flying by Tormenta defender Nicholas O'Callaghan.
  • Tucson midfielder Mohamed Kone was dominant against Tormenta.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comTucson midfielder Mohamed Kone was dominant against Tormenta.
  • USL Superleague president Amanda Vandervort was on hand at the start of the match to get things started.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comUSL Superleague president Amanda Vandervort was on hand at the start of the match to get things started.
  • FC Tucson supporters set off a smoke bomb prior to kickoff.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comFC Tucson supporters set off a smoke bomb prior to kickoff.
  • Players and staff from the University of Arizona soccer team showed up to support FC Tucson in their match against South Georgia.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comPlayers and staff from the University of Arizona soccer team showed up to support FC Tucson in their match against South Georgia.

Injuries and fitness concerns have limited midfielder Kevin Rodriguez’s time on the field for FC Tucson. His appearances in the last two games were typical: get on the field in the last few minutes and hope that something happens.

Rodriguez got a rare start on Saturday night against Tormenta FC at Kino North Stadium and he made the most of it. He scored two goals in the team’s win; one that puts them in the driver’s seat on the road to the playoffs.

It didn’t take him long to get his first. Noah Franke took a long range shot at the goal that got batted away by Tormenta’s keeper leaving it up to Rodriguez to finish the job.

The side from South Georgia later evened it up thanks in part to former FC Tucson player Azaad Liadi. Liadi, now a winger for Tormenta, broke through Tucson’s back line. Tucson keeper Wallis Lapsley collided with Liadi in an attempt to stop him, but not before Liadi sent the ball to Stefan Mueller who took full advantage of the empty net.

Rodriguez got his second in minute 67 after Shak Adams got the ball into the box. Adams sent the ball to Rodriguez. After a touch or two, Rodriguez lifted his head and drove the ball into the net, leaving the blue-clad keeper from Statesboro flat-footed.

Not to be outdone, Charlie Dennis finished the match with a rocket of a free kick from just in front of the corner flag. The ball went into the upper corner of the far side of the goal. Dennis immediately ran to the crowd to take a bow while his teammates mobbed him.

After not only giving up their winning streak but not scoring a goal in three weeks, it was a welcome return to playoff contention.

“This is the biggest game we’ve had here in three years as a pro team,” said coach Jon Pearlman after the match. “They delivered for the home fans, which is something they really wanted to do. You could feel the energy.”

“What we talked about was just being present from the first minute on,” Pearlman said about getting the players mentally prepared for a win. “It’s not going to be about soccer this time of year. It’s going to be about looking across the field at the other player and saying I want it worse than you.”

“And I don’t think that there is any denial that our guys wanted it worse tonight,” he added.

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