Patrick Wallen scores FC Tucson’s lone goal in the first half

Tucson, AZ (Tuesday, January 29, 2013) — FC Tucson’s 1-1 draw didn’t begin with the 6 o’clock kick off on Kino North Field 5. It began months earlier when head coach Rick Schantz and General Manager Jon Pearlman scheduled the date.

“We set up our lineup to be very counter-attacking,” Schantz said. “It was all planned out and the guys executed. … It’s extremely gratifying to know that we gave Sporting Kansas City a good run.”

Schantz explained that after spending time watching Sporting Kansas City and learning from head coach Peter Vermes, he knew enough about the team’s style of play to build a roster to counter it.

Using the players Pearlman acquired, Schantz’s lineup focused on manning up Sporting Kansas City’s three midfielders in the middle to make them work.

While FC Tucson failed to notch the mild upset (Sporting Kansas City wasn’t playing it’s best starting XI) it did succeed in challenging the MLS club early in their preseason training.

“Their guys fought and, to them, it’s a big game, which I completely understand because they want to show if they can play against these guys and maybe get a shot with one of our teams,” said Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes. “I thought they did very well, it was a good competition for us and in the end we got out of it what we needed to.”

Sporting KC opened the match’s scoring when C.J. Sapong twisted his defender around and found open space to slot a pass toward Chance Myers racing down the right side of the field.

Meyer’s well-placed cross found the head of Soony Saad, who directed he ball into the left side of the net.

Not to be outdone, FC Tucson’s goal was also the result of good interplay between teammates. Forward Patrick Wallen took advantage of an out-of-position defender to lead midfielder Tyler Wilson toward the box with a long ball. Wilson took the pass and drove toward the net from the right side until passing the ball back toward the center of the box where Wallen was there to finish.

FC Tucson’s Donny Toia nearly had two other goals in the first half but hit the frame on both occasions. For the rest of the match, FC Tucson spent more time defending than attacking but in the end Sporting Kansas City could find the game-winning tally.

“My goal in this game is to build and to instill passion for FC Tucson for the players,” Schantz said. “And when these players walk into the locker room, they now believe they can play with Sporting Kansas City. And I will remind them that in June and July when we’re pushing for the playoffs for the PDL.”