The first two foes of FC Tucson’s league season are about as different as the television shows “Touched by an Angel” and “Criss Angel Mindfreak.”
FC Tucson opens its USL Premier Development League campaign with a two-match road trip. The men in black face a fierce foe, the BYU Cougars, tonight at 6:30 in Provo, Utah, and take on a new franchise, the Las Vegas Mobsters, on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
In just two short seasons, FC Tucson and BYU have built up a rivalry that usually takes decades. Both teams have relished two wins and suffered two defeats. In 2012, FC Tucson defeated BYU 3-0 on July 6 to eliminate the Cougars from playoff contention. Last year, BYU turned the tables by knocking out FC Tucson with a 3-2 victory July 4.
The teams have combined for 16 yellow cards, 10 being shown to the Cougars, and one expulsion in their four matches.
“They’re the team in this division that’s already a well-tuned machine,” FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz said in a phone interview while the team was driving through snow in Utah on Wednesday. “They played their spring season against college teams over the last few weeks. They look like a strong team with counter-attacking as their focus.”
The other foe on the trip gained a good bit of fame even before it played a match, when ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas, a former star U.S. defender, said on national TV that he was offended by the nickname Mobsters.
Las Vegas opened its first season with a 1-0 home win over Albuquerque Sol FC on Saturday.
“With Vegas, we don’t really know a whole lot about them,” Schantz said. “We expect them to have a more technical style and be possession-oriented.
“We coined this road trip as one of our toughest this year. It should give us a sense of what the league is going to be about.”
FC Tucson will play an exhibition match against National Premier Soccer League side FC Hasental at home on May 21, the club announced earlier this week.
The match against FC Hasental will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Kino Sports Complex North Stadium. It is the first of three home nonleague friendlies FC Tucson will play this season. The other two matches have yet to be announced.
“We look at these exhibitions as a chance to get playing time for some of the players who haven’t been on the field much,” Schantz said. “You usually get more experienced guys or guys that may have professional careers behind them. We look forward to those games.”
FC Hasental plays in Thousand Oaks, California, and has the nickname of “Los Conejos” or Rabbits. It is part of the NPSL, which uses college players but can also have former professional players.
Single-Match Tickets On Sale
FC Tucson announced that single-match tickets are now on sale for all home matches. Tickets will be $10 and are general admission. Fans can purchase single-match tickets at FCTucson.com.