Saturday night's match couldn't equal the significance of FC Tucson's other home affair against a Valley of the Sun team earlier in the season.
But it didn't come up short on entertainment value as FC Tucson defeated Real Phoenix 5-2 in a nonleague match before 999 at Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5.
On May 14, FC Tucson claimed one of its greatest home wins ever with a 2-1 victory over Phoenix FC in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup first-round match.
Saturday's match against an unaffiliated team held less importance but it gave FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz a chance to use his entire roster as the game took on the role of a reunion with five former FC Tucson players taking the field for Real Phoenix.
"It was the perfect kind of opponent for us in this kind of environment," Schantz said. "They were very aggressive. They had a lot of desire to win."
FC Tucson's Isaac Ikyurav got the scoring started by speeding down the left side and sliding a shot far post in the eighth minute.
The lead was doubled when Gabe Silveira one-touched home a David Clemens pass from about 6 yards in the 15th minute.
Former FC Tucson midfielder Dre Saldana pulled Real Phoenix within 2-1 in the 18th minute.
For most of the rest of the first half, FC Tucson pushed forward and had a handful of chances. Even after a few subs, the flow hardly ever halted.
That was until another former FC Tucson player, Dom Papa, evened the score at 2 in the 41st minute. His hard shot along the ground beat goalkeeper, and former teammate, Michael D'Arrigo.
"Seeing Dom score a goal and being as excited as he was and playing as aggressive as he did, that's why he was my captain. I still call him 'Captain' whenever I see him," Schantz said.
Papa, who's focusing on getting his master's at Arizona State, clearly enjoyed his return.
"It was a great homecoming," Papa said. "Any time I can come down here and play in front of these fans it's special."
The tie lasted four minutes. Ricardo Velazco sailed a shot into the upper right corner to put FC Tucson ahead 3-2 at the break. It was the former Sunnyside High School forward's fifth goal of the season.
"We got the result, a lot of players got a lot of minutes," Velazco said.
Carlos Montes, who played a crucial role in last season's run to the playoffs, marked his return with a goal in the 49th minute to give FC Tucson a 4-2.
Nigel Hesse scored the night's final goal in the 90th minute.
Former FC Tucson players Conor Spence, Imad Id-Deen and Brandon Mills also saw action for Real Phoenix.
• Three second-half goals helped Tucson Soccer Academy FC remain undefeated with a 4-2 victory over the Real Salt Lake Women in the opening match of Saturday's doubleheader. After Kaitlyn Lopez converted a penalty and RSL equalized to make it 1-1 at the break, Karina Camacho bent in a free kick in the 62nd minute to give TSAFC the lead for good. Jordan Davidson and Shannon Shields added goals for TSAFC. "We said before the game that this would be a character-defining game," TSAFC coach Amy Garelick said. "There were times it was not pretty for us, but we came away with the win." The victory moves TSAFC into a tie for first place, with the Phoenix Del Sol, in the Women's Premier Soccer League's Big Sky-North division. Both teams have nine points, but TSAFC has played just three matches, two less than Phoenix.
• Among those in the grandstand was New Zealander Lawrence Raffles. The 54-year-old, who is on vacation, wanted to see a soccer match and "drove to where the lights were." Unfortunately for him, he didn't realize until after he entered the stadium that he was at a Tucson Padres game. The Padres refunded his money and he crossed Ajo Way to watch FC Tucson. "The players are very talented, and I'm really impressed with the organization," Raffles said.
• Who: FC Tucson at Fresno
• When: 7 p.m. Saturday