FC Tucson Fall Soccer Showcase
Kicked by a kid, Goats fall to FC Tucson
Not by the hair of their chinny-chin-chin: Late goal by 17-year-old Ali gives win over MLS side
FC Tucson’s lineup on Friday night featured a number of good college players plus a smattering of ex-pros who have played in leagues all over North America, but it took a high school kid two weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday to give them a win over Major League Soccer’s CD Chivas USA.
Seventeen-year-old Sadam Ali, a senior at Rincon/University High School, scored the lone goal of the match in the 88th minute off of a pass from Ricardo Mardoqueo. Ali had only been put into the game a few moments before with a set of simple instructions from the coach.
“He just told me to go and play. Play hard, go and get a free kick,” he said after the match. “Whatever I can do to win the game.”
“As soon as I hit the corner, I knew Ricardo was going to go,” he said of the goal. “I went behind the defense so he could cross it to me. I imagined it before it happened.”
The team only needed Ali’s goal because Chivas couldn’t score in the inaugural match at Tucson's Kino North Stadium. A fine defensive effort in the first half limited Chivas’s chances, particularly from striker Erick “El Cubo” Torres.
“He (Torres) dropped into midfield. After about 20 minutes we went from three in the midfield to straight up with them,” said Coach Rick Schantz after the match. “I was so impressed with what Kareem Smith was doing at center back with Devon (Grousis) that I thought as long as I kept the back four in we could handle them.”
Schantz also credited midfielders Edgar Reyna and Scott Morrison, a Scottish player who captained Phoenix FC over the summer, with helping keep Chivas off the scoreboard.
“Those six players really carried the team,” Schantz said.
According to Schantz, his best tactics were to trust his players.
“We had a game plan, and I had to believe,” he said. “If I’m calm, the team will stay calm.”
Toia in Rojiblanco
Former FC Tucson player Donny Toia played nearly 60 minutes for Chivas USA. The last time Schantz coached against Toia was the U.S. Open Cup match against Phoenix FC earlier this year. That was also a win for FC Tucson.
“I love the kid. The one thing I said to him is that every time we have big game, I am going to make sure you’re playing for the other team,” he laughed. “He said ‘I don’t know how you guys pull these things out.’”
“I thought he did really well. After the first 10 minutes, he looked nervous,” Schantz said of Toia. “But after that he was just lit. He and (Eric) Avila were really good on the left side.”
Per Major League Soccer rules, Toia, still officially a trialist with the team, could not talk to the press. However, Chivas USA assistant coach Marco Fabian had praise for the Tucson native.
“He’s fine,” he said. “He’s a great player with a great future. We are still observing him to see how he does.”