David Clemens second-half goal not enough to spark comeback bid.

By H. Jose Bosch

Ventura, CA (May 25, 2013) — FC Tucson Head Coach Rick Schantz took a tactical risk by resting several players who have started regularly during the season’s first couple of weeks. Division-leading Ventura County took advantage of the new lineup, and handed FC Tucson its first loss of the season, 2-1.

“It’s a little disconcerting that that second group couldn’t take care of business,” Schantz said. “It’s on me because I made the decision to make the big switch today and I’ve got to take responsibility for it.”

The back line was the only part of the lineup Schantz didn’t change from what has been the regular starting corp. But the rest of the lineup was a slight change up from what FC Tucson has trotted out on the pitch in PDL and US Open Cup play.

The Fusion controlled possession and spent most of the first 45 minutes in the attacking half of the pitch, pressuring the FC Tucson defense beyond its breaking point. Ventura County finally broke through in the 26th minute when Steve Palacios fired a shot from the top of the box that was deflected past starting keeper Dallas Jaye.

The onslaught continued in large part due to the forward duo of Emmanual Boateng and Chase Minter. Both forwards harassed the back line with their speed and quickness and found ample opportunities to free up enough space for a shot or a cross into the box.

Boateng extended the Fusion’s lead to 2-0 in the ’39 minute when he darted left, then right to lose his defenders and then slotted home his shot into the lower right corner of the net from the top of the goal box.

“We came out flat,” said FC Tucson captain Travis Campbell. “We started the game off on our heels. … We were really unorganized to start the game.”

Beginning near the end of the first half and after halftime, Schantz made four subs to bring in Ricardo Velazco, Saeed Robinson, David Clemens and Eli Galbraith-Knapp. The substitutions worked and FC Tucson’s attack improved tremendously in the second half.

The club’s lone goal came in the 79th minute, after a Ventura County defender collided with goalkeeper Eric Shannon as he was trying to grab the ball. Clemens was there to poach the loose ball, and after his initial shot was blocked, kicked it into the wide open net to cut the deficit to one.

But despite several more scoring chances in the second half, FC Tucson couldn’t find the equalizer. Now the club ends its Southern California swing with a match at OC Blues Strikers FC at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 26.

“We just have to put this behind us and just focus on the next match and make sure we get the result,” Velazco said. “Whatever happened today, happened. Let’s move on to tomorrow.”