TUCSON, Ariz. — FC Tucson picked up another point on the road Saturday night as they drew 2-2 with the Albuquerque Sol at University of New Mexico stadium in front of a Sol record 2,283 in attendance.
The first chance of the match fell to Tucson, as Tate Schmitt found himself with space in the box in the 2nd minute before smashing a shot off the crossbar in what would prove to be a taste of things to come.
Albuquerque took an early lead, netting the first goal in the 10th minute as Sam Gleadle curled one inside the far post to beat a diving Luis Barraza.
It didn’t take long for the Men in Black to equalize however, as a ball from Nico Solabarrieta ricocheted off a few bodies in the box before falling to Schmitt, who slotted it away in the 15th minute.
Despite controlling the bulk of the possession throughout the match, it was the same story for Tucson, as chance after chance seemed to fall to the wayside.
Schmitt nearly added a second in the 32nd minute on a free kick from 20 yards out, but Sol goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu tipped the dipping effort over the bar.
The sides went into the half locked at 1-1, and Tucson would once again have to come from behind to ensure they returned home with a point to show for their efforts.
Jack Clancy netted the second for Albuquerque in the 51st minute from a free kick just outside the box, awarded after the assistant referee deemed goalkeeper Barraza handled the ball just outside the box.
Kevin Partida scored the equalizer for Tucson minutes later yet again however, collecting the rebound from Moshe Perez’s shot after Beaulieu was unable to hold onto it to make it 2-2 in the 59th minute.
At times, the Sol elected to drop all 11 players into their own half in order to preserve the point, making it difficult to break down the hosts.
“The key for us in those situations is keeping possession in that half of the field and to find the right combination and timing of those runs,” head coach Jon Pearlman said.
“We created enough chances, but as frustrating as the game was, I’m satisfied with the way we came back twice. When you have to grind out wins you’ve got to understand how to solve these tactical problems because it’s something you’ll experience in the playoffs.”
Despite coming away with just a point, the Men in Black will retain the Golden Rattler for yet another year, having clinched the season series against Albuquerque after two prior wins over the Sol.
The final matchup between the sides comes Monday, July 3rd as FC Tucson will celebrate Independence Day a day early with postgame fireworks and free team posters for fans to accompany $1 beers and ice pops.
“I expect it to be electric,” Pearlman said of the atmosphere Monday. “People look forward to this game all year.”
“This is a very internationally influenced team, but I know they’re very grateful for the opportunity this country has afforded them, and we can’t wait to suit up in the red, white, and blue again and continue to play inventive, passionate soccer for the fans.”
After the game, Tucson will be presented with the Golden Rattler before fans will be invited to come down to the field to have their team posters signed by players and grab a seat on the field for the fireworks display.