Gavino Carranza might never play another match for FC Tucson, but he's still the future of the club.
Two weeks ago, the 16-year-old Tucsonan became the youngest player ever to take the field in an FC Tucson uniform. On Tuesday, the talented forward made his second appearance for the club.
All year, Carranza has been practicing with FC Tucson, which wraps up its season tonight at 7:30 against the BYU Cougars at Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5.
While most of his teammates will be headed to college, Carranza will start preparing for his junior year at Salpointe Catholic High School. Whether or not he returns to FC Tucson next summer is in the distant future for a player whose options seem plenty.
But what Carranza represents is the future FC Tucson is trying to chart out.
"These young (local) guys that have some talent and ability, we want to get them out in this environment," FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz said, "because hopefully over the next four or five years the goal will be that it's not just all these college players that we bring in from around the country, it's a majority of guys from Tucson. That's what our goal is.
"If we have started something with this youth team program, and we end up developing where the majority of the players are from Tucson, then we can feel like we've done something for the community. To raise the bar."
Carranza clearly knows how to place the ball under the bar. As a sophomore at Salpointe last season, he scored 18 times, including once in the state title game as the Lancers captured their second straight crown.
When he arrives to try and help Salpointe go for three in a row, he'll have the benefit of 2 1/2 months of top-level training and teaching.
"It's a great experience going out there on the field with" the FC Tucson players, Carranza said. "It's a higher level. The guys are really strong and faster. I really love that. I'm very competitive.
"I've learned a lot from the players. I'm going out there, and they are teaching me as well as I learn from watching what they are doing, too.
"I'll bring this experience back to (Salpointe). I'll try to help players out and show them what I've been shown to help us improve as one."
Gavino isn't the first Carranza to pull on a Lancers uniform. His brother, Gaston Jr., wrapped up his career by winning the title with Gavino last year, and Gavino's father, Gaston Sr., played with Schantz at Salpointe years ago.
That connection helped Gavino link up with FC Tucson.
"Gavino's father and I played together in middle school, and we also played at Salpointe," Schantz said. "He was a great player.
"His dad called me in the spring, and he asked if there were any recommendations we have for him - whether it's go to Real Salt Lake (Academy) for the summer or tournament camps, just to get away. I said I thought the best environment would be for him to train with FC Tucson and that he would be around bigger and better players day in and day out.
"His dad, I think, was a little nervous at first because he didn't know if he was imposing on our program and what we do. But I said he would be treated like every other player, and if he didn't perform, he would be asked to not come back to training."
Carranza, who turned 16 on May 10, performed well enough to come off the bench in two nonleague matches.
"The first thing that stands out is that he's extremely quick, and he's got a great left foot," Schantz said of the 5-foot-7-inch forward. "Not only that, he's quiet but he's tenacious. He likes to win the ball. As an example, the assist he got (against Xolos on July 6), he jumped about 3 feet off the ground to head that ball down to Brian Hoyt. He's in a game against men, and he's going up and challenging in the air.
"His competitiveness, his willingness to do whatever it takes to win, that coupled with his athleticism and his great left foot - I think he's got a shot."
Even if that shot doesn't include another stint with FC Tucson, both player and team seem to have a future that looks bright.
• Who: BYU Cougars at FC Tucson
• When: 7:30 p.m.
• Where: Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5