The powerful, bullish runs of FC Tucson forward Odaine Sinclair caused problems for the BYU defense all night, yet it was his moment of brilliant finesse just before halftime that put the home side on track for a crucial 2-0 victory.
Thursday’s win not only pushes FC Tucson’s winning streak to five, and four in a row in league play, but also secures the top spot in the USL Premier Development League Mountain Division. FC Tucson and the Cougars are tied with 12 points apiece, but the men in black now hold the tiebreaker on goal differential.
“I’ve been in this game for 30 years, and that’s probably the best goal I’ve ever seen live,” FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz said of Sinclair’s magical finish.
With the ball hanging in the air at the edge of the box and his back to the goal, Sinclair reached into his bag of tricks and bicycle-kicked the ball past the outstretched arms of the BYU goalkeeper to give FC Tucson a 1-0 lead .
“I’m stunned, as everyone is,” Sinclair said of his first career bicycle goal.
Unable to see where the ball traveled after it left his foot, Sinclair needed the boisterous reaction of teammates and the 1,033 supporters at Kino Sports Complex North Stadium to let him know his career highlight went in.
An eventful five-minute stretch was just starting for the Jamaican forward. Sinclair and his “210 pounds of pure muscle,” as Schantz described him, picked up a yellow card seconds before halftime on a thundering challenge. Then, just two minutes into the second half, he added some insurance by pouncing on a loose ball in the box to put FC Tucson up 2-0.
It was Sinclair’s third goal in the past two games.
“What this proves is that our guys have come together very quickly,” Schantz said. “It doesn’t hurt that we’ve spent probably 40 hours in the vans together in the last two weeks. I love the camaraderie of this group.”
After a rough couple of minutes at the start of the match, FC Tucson maintained the bulk of possession throughout the first half, but was unable to create many real chances until Sinclair’s strike. BYU remained dangerous on the counterattack, but goalkeeper Billy Thompson snuffed out several shots on goal.
FC Tucson continued its solid play in the second half, led by Michael DeGraffenreidt and the rest of fthe defense. The home side’s goalpost also helped , blocking a BYU shot in the 58th minute .
FC Tucson also scored first in the team’s season-opening 3-2 road loss . On Thursday, Sinclair’s second goal and a stronger defensive effort helped FC Tucson hand the Cougars their first loss of the season.
“This time around definitely shows more of what we’re about,” Thompson said. “We’re more comfortable with the team we have now, we’re extremely deep and it showed out on the field.”