FC Tucson: Open Cup brews a soccer rivalry

2013-05-14T00:00:00Z FC Tucson: Open Cup brews a soccer rivalryDave Ord Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Don't expect to see cars driving around town with bumper stickers pronouncing, "My favorite teams are FC Tucson and whoever's playing Phoenix FC."

At least not yet.

But FC Tucson is hoping tonight's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup first-round match against the men in shin guards from the north will be square one of a long, highly competitive soccer rivalry.

"To parallel it for the fanbase here or our community, this Open Cup match against Phoenix would be akin to if University of Arizona basketball was hosting Arizona State in the Sweet 16 - and University of Arizona was the underdog," said FC Tucson chief business officer Chris Keeney.

It might not reach the David-and-Goliath extent, but FC Tucson clearly is the one holding the sling.

Phoenix FC competes in the United Soccer Leagues Pro division, one level above FC Tucson's USL Premier Development League.

Also know as the Wolves, Phoenix FC has already played nine matches in its inaugural season, which started in March. FC Tucson played its first match of the USL PDL season Sunday, earning a 1-1 draw at Los Angeles Misioneros FC.

To add to the mix, Phoenix FC has a couple of stalwarts who ruled the pitch for FC Tucson last season - forward Donny Toia, a former Canyon del Oro High School and Pima College standout, and midfielder Reid Schmitt.

One of their teammates last year was Travis Campbell. Campbell, a born and raised Phoenix defender, has returned to play for FC Tucson. And the 23-year-old is certainly up for tonight's match.

"It means a lot," the former Phoenix Thunderbird High School star said. "Obviously being a Phoenix person I would have loved to be a part of that program … but being down here, playing against them, is going to be a lot of fun. Hopefully, it starts a rivalry. …

"One thing that hits for a lot of the Phoenix guys is that (Phoenix FC) didn't bring in enough Phoenix guys … because they were looking at everywhere else."

The competition isn't likely to be limited to the field. Phoenix FC's supporters group - La Furia Roja 1881 - is slated to have a fan section beyond the north end line. Not more than a short corner kick away will be the section for the Cactus Pricks, FC Tucson's supporters group.

"The Phoenicians are coming," Keeney said. "They've been buying tickets, so I think it's going to be lively. They're gonna come wearing their red and they're gonna expect to win."

Today

• What: U.S. Open Cup first-round match, 7:30 p.m.

• Who: Phoenix FC at FC Tucson

• Where: Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5

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