Fall Showcase soccer
FC Tucson to inaugurate stadium with friendly vs. MLS side Chivas
Local team to square off against a Goat team featuring Bocanegra, Torres
The first official match at Pima County’s new soccer stadium at the Kino Sports Complex will feature local side FC Tucson against Major League Soccer’s CD Chivas USA.
The announcement of the Nov. 15 event was made at a ribbon-cutting Wednesday for the 2,360-seat facility at Country Club and Ajo.
The $2.8 million project included the new soccer pitch, grandstand, and upgrades to the other fields at the sports complex. The funds came from a $5 million settlement between Pima County and the Chicago White Sox — former tenants at the site.
Kino Field No. 5, which will continue to operate, already played host to FC Tucson and a number of preseason friendlies last year, including one between Seattle Sounders FC and Tiburones Rojos de Vera Cruz. Officials from FC Tucson and Pima County hope the new stadium will allow Tucson to attract even more events.
“Pima County understood that building a new soccer complex and a new stadium is going to allow our community to attract evens that will spin off from the world’s most popular game,” said FC Tucson managing partner Greg Foster. “On Nov. 15, the future of Kino is going to begin.”
Chivas USA is a sister club to Mexican side CD Guadalajara. Although both clubs have had their difficulties in recent years, the Mexican Chivas boasts of one of the most loyal fanbases in North American soccer.
The American Chivas didn’t make the MLS playoffs which are underway this week, but the friendly match will provide practice for the team as they retool for next season.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity and very important for us to participate with FC Tucson in an exhibition game, as it will help us stay active during the off-season,” said Chivas USA’s director of soccer Francisco “Paco” Palencia of the match, dubbed the Fall Showcase, in a statement released by the local team. “We come into this game knowing that they have a good fan base behind them and a great facility, so we are taking it very seriously, with the mentality of enjoying every minute of it while also treating it with the same significance and professional attitude we approach every game.”
Despite not making the playoffs, Chivas USA features two well regarded players in former U.S. national team captain Carlos Bocanegra and rising star Erick “El Cubo” Torres. The team also recently brought in two former FC Tucson players, Donny Toia and Edgar Reyna, for a trial.
“Both did well,” said FC Tucson general manager Jonathan Pearlman of the matches Reyna and Toia played against the New Zealand national team and San Jose’s reserves. “Chivas USA has certainly shown interest in him (Toia) to the point where it’s very possible he’ll be playing against us.”
“Every game we bring in we see as an opportunity to showcase our local players,” he added.
Nomad no more
Possibly no one in the FC Tucson operation has experienced the growth of soccer in this part of the state the way coach Rick Schantz has. He played at Salpointe under local legend Wolfgang Weber and had career in both college and the pros. He also played for the PDL team Tucson had in the 1990s, the Tucson Amigos.
The Amigos played games at a variety of locations: high schools, Hi Corbett Field, Murphy Stadium, Pima County Sports Park out in Marana and even one game played on an improvised field at Himmel Park. When seeing the place where he’ll be coaching FC Tucson’s players, he got downright philosophical.
“It’s what we are supposed to do as people; make it better for the next generation,” he said. “I wanted to do something special. I always considered playing for the Amigos and growing up in Tucson as a soccer player was a gift … Hopefully in the next 25 years, we’ll have hundreds, even thousands of players come through this facility.”
“If we get lucky, maybe we can build these grandstands all around this field,” he added.