Both team still tied at the top of the table
Tucson, AZ (Saturday, June 16, 2012) — In a match that featured the heavy weights in the PDL Southwest division, two fights nearly broke out when FC Tucson drew Ventura County, 1-1.
The first near-fight occurred in the 30th-minute after Eli Galbraith-Knapp made a tackle at midfield. Galbraith-Knapp was given a red card but not before both teams gathered into a large, pushing mass. The second near-fight occurred at the end of the game, this time nearly bringing in the benches as another pushing and shoving match ensured without punches thrown.
“I think the referee lost the game,” said FC Tucson head coach Rick Schantz. “I think he lost control of the game. And this isn’t the first time this has happened to us on the road. This is one of the few times as a coach I felt that I was cheated. I think the impact the referee had on the game was way too much.”
The tension was indicative of the entire match, which featured FC Tucson playing down a man for 60 minutes. Even with the man advantage, Ventura County couldn’t capitalize with its division-leading offense. The team’s lone goal came on a penalty kick in the 50th minute.
Even after the one-goal lead and the one-man advantage, FC Tucson still managed to press the Fusion defense, relying on set-pieces to give the team any shot at equalizing. It finally came in the 61st minute when Donny Toia out-jumped his defender and headed the ball into the ground, near the left post for the equalizing goal.
“Max (Alvarez) whipped that fantastic ball toward the far post, which he called that out in the first place,” Toia said. “And it just kept coming too me and I knew I was going to get up on it and I just launched over the (defender) and I aimed down and it got a little deflection off the goalie and went in.”
Added James Cohn: “This was a very important game for us, coming against the other team that was tied with us at the top of the table. They had a reputation of being a really good team and we really needed the result here. Coming away with a tie is alright. We’d prefer the win, but we’ll take it.
FC Tucson wouldn’t have been in a position to tie the game without stellar goalkeeping from Brendan Roslund. In the 23rd minute, Ventura County’s David Valasquez shook off his defender and found himself one-on-one with Roslund just outside of the six-yard box. But Roslund made the kick save from point-blank range to keep the game tied at zero.
Four minutes later, Roslund stepped up big again in nearly the same situation. This time the Fusion’s Francisco Lopez found himself alone with just Roslund to beat. And again, Roslund’s kick save kept Ventura County off the board.
“A couple time we just got broken down during the run of play and the ball just ended up at a guy’s feet,” Roslund said. “It just happens. I just saw that he was wide open in the box, so I stepped up to him and made sure he didn’t have an angle.”
FC Tucson’s road trip will now finish in Los Angeles, where the team will play the LA Misioneros on Sunday, June 18, at 8 p.m. The two teams drew 1-1 in their last meeting on June 14.
’50: Ventura County-Francisco Lopez (PK)
’61: FC Tucson-Donny Toia