FC Tucson’s lone goal scored by local star Donny Toia.

Tucson, AZ (Saturday, July 21, 2012) — Following FC Tucson’s 2-1 loss to Sounders FC U23 in the Western Conference semifinals, the silence in FC Tucson’s makeshift locker room was deafening. Because just 20 minutes prior, much like FC Tucson had experienced in 2012, the team had no problems building up attacks and frustrating the opposing defense.

They just couldn’t finish.

“It’s difficult when the guys play that way, make two mistakes, and we lose 2-1,” said FC Tucson head coach Rick Schantz. “But that’s soccer. That’s the greatest thing about this sport. There have been games this year that we won that we didn’t deserve to win and I can only say I’m extremely proud of their effort. … I’m not disappointed.”

FC Tucson drew first blood in the conference semifinal just two minutes into the second half. Carlos Montes slipped the ball into Donny Toia’s feet, and the local star had plenty of space on the left side of the field to attack the goal box and then slot a shot into the lower right corner of the net.

But it was the last time a smart build up resulted in a goal for FC Tucson. Just two mistakes in the last 40 minutes of the game became the difference.

In the 55th minute, after a Sounders attack, the FC Tucson defense found itself on its heels inside the box. Without anyone to definitively clear the ball, it continued to bounce around until the Sounders’ Darwin Jones found it in space and banged in the tying goal.

“When the ball is inside your six-yard box, someone has to take control, someone just has to step up and win it,” said Dom Papa. “We hesitated and when you hesitate all is lost.”

Then in the 64th minute, an FC Tucson giveaway deep in their own third led to a Sounders counter which forced goalkeeper Michael D’Arrigo to come out toward the top of the box to cut off the shooter’s angle. But the Sounders’ Sean Morris successfully evaded the keeper and easily put the ball into the back of a wide-open net for the eventual game winner.

Despite the deficit, FC Tucson’s attack continued to be effective right through to the final whistle. The Sounders’ defenders became increasingly frustrated, even yelling at each other at moments, as FC Tucson sent in wave after wave of attacks. But inside the final third, FC Tucson was missing that final pass to break someone free. Despite the high tension, no shot challenged the Sounders’ keeper as most shots were either stopped by the defense or went off frame.

“There’s no quit in this group,” Schantz said. “I always tell people we’ll never be an easy out and, I’ll tell you what, Seattle is in their locker room right now and they’re very, very happy right now because they beat a good team.”

’47: FC Tucson-Donny Toia (Carlos Montes)
’55: Sounders FC U23-Darwin Jones
’64: Sounders FC U23-Sean Morris

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