FC Tucson builds for new season, named rookie franchise of the year
Plus: Who is that in the NWSL logo?
The crew over at FC Tucson is still basking in the glory of being named the Premier Development League’s Rookie Franchise of the Year last weekend.
“Out of 13 new franchises added to the PDL in 2012, FC Tucson’s outstanding ownership group was able to leverage their resources and experience to produce the best product and presentation of any new franchise,” said PDL Senior Director Jeff McRaney. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the addition of FC Tucson to the PDL and the USL family.”
2012 was the first year for the team as a part of the PDL and managed to finish second in the Southwest Division and an impressive playoff run that took them to the Western Conference semifinal.
While the staff and players get credit, FC Tucson’s managing partner has some other folks to thank.
“This award isn’t just for the organization; it’s also for the fans, the Cactus Pricks and our great local youth and adult soccer organizations. This club belongs to the fans and it belongs to the city of Tucson. FC Tucson doesn’t exist without its supporters and every week we had the best crowds in the PDL cheering, chanting and willing our club to some exciting wins. Without them, this award isn’t possible.”
Pearlman is making a list, checking it twice
The team has its first game on Jan. 29 against Sporting Kansas City, a team that ended its season in second place in Major League Soccer.
In order to bulk up the lineup for that match, the team is holding open try outs on Jan. 5, at Kino Sports Complex.
It may sound like the team is cutting it close, but FC Tucson general manager Jonathan Pearlman says that in addition to those who try out, the team has a list of “25-30 guys” that they are hoping to bring in for preseason friendlies.
Pearlman has been the one responsible for bringing in players, often from some surprising places. He can sound almost sinister when talking about how he finds them.
“I know who these characters are. I know where they live.”
Who are they? Well, according to Pearlman, they are college seniors that have not latched on to an MLS or USL-Pro team yet.
“These are people that probably won’t play in PDL,” he admits when talking about these players staying on for the summer.
FC Tucson doesn’t pay a salary, but preseason matches against MLS teams and a new USL-Pro team in Phoenix means that players who come out know that they can get a look from the pro sides.
Some other players will be recognizable from FC Tucson’s last season. Pearlman is hoping they can break away from their college studies to rejoin the team for a game or two. They include University of San Diego’s James Cohn, UNLV’s Matt Linenberger, Sacramento State’s Max Alvarez and University of San Francisco goalkeeper Brendan Roslund. Cohn, Linenberger and Alvarez all have family ties to Arizona.
That’s great for preseason, but what about the regular season? Pearlman is already working on that too.
“I’ve already been making calls and locked down people for the summer.”
Some things will remain a mystery
The new professional women’s soccer league, which has the backing of the three North American soccer federations, announced their name and logo this week. It will be called the National Women’s Soccer League.
The logo led a number of commentators to ask: who is the player in the logo?
It isn’t an entirely off the wall question. Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Jerry West is famously in the NBA logo (although the league denies it is him) and Mia Hamm graced the logo of the now defunct Women’s Professional Soccer.
I put this critical question to Neil Beuthe, who is the interim spokesman for the league. He noted that once he saw the logo, he knew it would be a question that would come up.
“It was put together by one of the owners,” he said. “It’s not anyone specific.”
Still, it’s likely going to remain a parlor game for fans. For those who want to try: she’s got a pony tail, so that eliminates Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe. Short sleeves, so you can cross off Hope Solo.
In more important matters, the league finally announced the name of their eighth team: Seattle Reign FC. The team is owned by Bill Predmore, who owns a Seattle based digital marketing firm called POP.
The league hopes to play its first games in April. With MLS teams doing preseason in Arizona, what about the NWSL? Beuthe says that preseason plans are “still being worked out.” The league isn’t willing to go public yet with any expansion plans. One thing is for sure, the league is looking not to meet the fate of the other two professional women’s leagues over the last decade.
“The goal of the league is to be sustainable in the long term,” Beuthe said.