Match the culmination of the Chapman Tucson Champions League tournament.
Tucson, AZ (July 6, 2013) — In beating the winners of the Chapman Tucson Champions League, 4-2, FC Tucson wasn’t just solidifying itself as the best club in Tucson. According to Head Coach Rick Schantz, the club was doing something more.
“If (the Chapman Tucson Champions League) inspires more people to want to play here on this wonderful field and this great environment then what we’re doing is growing the game,” Schantz said. “That’s what the mission of FC Tucson has been all along. We wanted to grow the game in Southern Arizona and bring the best.”
FC Tucson’s match with Xolos, who won the Menlo League Championship, ended an experiment that Schantz hopes will continue. The Chapman Tucson Champions League began with four league champions from four of the major mens leagues in Tucson at the beginning of May. The the final was played prior to FC Tucson’s home match on Sunday, June 30. Xolos won that match for the right to play FC Tucson.
Xolos captain Alex Rangel, who was one of several players from Xolos who formally played with FC Tucson, said he appreciated the chance for his team to measure themselves against a PDL side and he looks forward for the chance to meet FC Tucson again next season.
“I thought it was a great opportunity for me and the rest of the team,” Rangel said. “We didn’t roll over. It wasn’t just an easy game for them. They had to try to make sure they got the result they needed to go home happy.”
FC Tucson didn’t waste any time getting on the board. In the second minute, Saeed Robinson scored his third goal in two matches to put FC Tucson up 1-0.
The club wouldn’t score its next goal until the 29th minute, which was also set up by Robinson. Kind of. Robinson beat his man into the box but was brought down by the defender, causing the referee to blow the whistle and signal for a penalty kick. Aaron Long stepped up to the penalty spot and then slammed home a goal to make it 2-0.
Carlos Montes slipped in a goal just before the end of the half to give FC Tucson a 3-0 lead at the break.
Despite the score line, FC Tucson didn’t look comfortable through the half. Most of that was the result of Schantz trying out a new formation and playing some players who aren’t regular starters.
“I thought they were a little confused on what we were trying,” Schantz said. “We were trying a little bit like Real Salt Lake with a diamond midfield and you could see the forwards confused. They thought they had to play like defenders.”
Added FC Tucson midfielder Connor Brandt: “You can kind of tell we weren’t used to it. Defending was kind of shaky at the beginning and sorted out as the game progressed.”
Club history was made during FC Tucson’s fourth goal in the 81st minute. Gavino Carranza set up Brian Hoyt to earn an assist on the play. Carranza, who is just 16, became the youngest player in FC Tucson history to notch a point.
Xolos scored two goals late to cut the deficit in half. But their first goal was noteworthy. Fernando Gauna, who scored the first goal in FC Tucson history in 2011, notched Xolos’ first goal of the night.
“I mean as a kid growing up it was unfortunate that soccer was not a first choice,” Brandt said. “Everyone’s playing baseball, basketball, or football. It’s nice being a part of something so special. Especially here in Tucson where I can say I honestly haven’t been to a city where they care so much about the sport. It’s amazing.”