FC Tucson wins $15,000 prize money for best finish among PDL clubs.

By H. Jose Bosch

Houston, TX (May 29, 2013) — FC Tucson found itself in the same position the club was in during rounds one and two of the U.S. Open Cup: trailing a goal in the second half. But against MLS side Houston Dynamo, FC Tucson couldn’t find anymore U.S. Open Cup magic and the club’s historic run ended with a 2-0 loss in BBVA Compass Stadium.

“I’m extremely proud of the guys,” said FC Tucson Head Coach Rick Schantz. “They worked very hard and they tried to execute the game plan and we gave up two very good goals. … Every single one (of the players) played as hard as they could and they left it on the field.”

The Dynamo were the better club for most of the match, controlling possession and sending waves of attacks at the FC Tucson net early. But the FC Tucson’s defense set a tone early that they would not back down against an attack that was bigger, faster and stronger than most they have seen.

Defenders Travis Campbell, Greg Carter, Tim Harbison and Edgar Reyna came up with timely tackles, interceptions and challenges that frustrated the Houston attack and kept the game scoreless in the opening 20 minutes.
But the Dynamo eventually found the back of the net in the 26th minute when Alex Dixon slammed home a Mike Chabala cross from the left side of the field.

“We wanted to sit in and try to deny as many passes as we could to (Brian) Ching and Jason Johnson up top,” Campbell said. “We stuck to it and everyone worked as hard as they could. .. (We got) unlucky on that first goal. We could’ve tracked a little better, maybe. Maybe we could’ve picked him up but I don’t remember what happened before the play.”

The match remained 1-0 heading into the half and FC Tucson was in that familiar spot once again. But offensively the club just couldn’t create many chances. And the few they had didn’t find the back of the net. For the entire match, FC Tucson had just one shot on goal.

The final goal of the night wouldn’t come until the 85th minute. Brandon Zimmerman was given a yellow card just outside of the goal box and on the ensuring free kick, Giles Barnes curled the ball inside the right post to give Houston the 2-0 lead and put an end to the FC Tucson run.

But even without the MLS upset, FC Tucson etched itself into the record books. In addition to being the first Arizona club to reach the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, FC Tucson was also the first PDL team ever to defeat professional clubs in back-to-back matches.

Because of that feat, FC Tucson won the $15,000 prize money that goes to the PDL club with the best U.S. Open Cup finish (all four PDL clubs in the third round lost, but FC Tucson won the tiebreaker for beating professional clubs in back-to-back matches).

“It’s an honor to be here with my teammates, representing Tucson and Arizona,” said FC Tucson forward Ricardo Velazco. “It’s a great experience. Everyone learned from it and hopefully we’re back here next year.”

Added goalkeeper Dallas Jaye: “We’ve battled against three pro teams. We proved to ourselves that this is a level we might not be at right now but it’s a level we can get to for sure.”