FC Tucson squares off against Sounders FC U23 at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Tucson, AZ (Saturday, July 20, 2012) — On Saturday night FC Tucson Head Coach Rick Schantz will see a familiar face on the opposing sideline: Sounders FC U23 head coach Darren Sawatzky. The two were teammates during their college years at the University of Portland.
“My freshman year in college at Portland, I could not afford to come home for spring break,” Schantz recalled. “Without hesitation Darren offered for me to head to Federal Way, WA, his hometown and spend the time with his family. His kindness and passion to succeed made a lasting impression on me.”
It’s safe to say Sawatzky won’t show the same kind of hospitality as both coaches make their PDL playoff debuts on Saturday night. But the passion to succeed that rubbed of on Schantz is still present in the FC Tucson coach and he hopes that passion will translate to his players.
“ We have talked about a national championship since day one,” Schantz said. “But I always refocus the guys and make them concentrate on the next game. A team cannot succeed long term unless it wins the next game. I think the guys are excited to be in the playoffs, but most importantly they are excited to represent Tucson on the bigger stage.”
FC Tucson comes into the playoff after mixed results last weekend. On July 11, FC Tucson defeated the Southern California Seahorses 4-2 in what was the team’s best overall performance of the season. But on July 13, OC Blue Star ran all over the team in a 6-0 FC Tucson loss.
In preparation for the playoffs, Schantz said the team has been working on recovering and building energy to heal the common aches and pains that come at the end of a season. But he also took the team on a hike to the Romero Pools in Catalina State Park to build team unity and keep things light during playoff week.
“That annual hike is something the guys always talk about,” Schantz said “It is a time to come together, work hard, and enjoy a different environment with great teammates and friends. It is still a game and having fun is very important. This team enjoys each other and it shows on the field.”
And Schantz hopes that following the weekend the team will have just one more week to spend together.
Tonight’s Western Conference Semifinal will be streamed live beginning at 7:30 p.m. Fans can head to http://www.kadytv.com/sports/ventura-county-fusion to watch all of the action. Fans can follow the game online at Facebook (www.Facebook.com/FCTucson) or on Twitter (@FC_Tucson).