Soccer: Brutal eight-day stretch tests FC Tucson's depth

2013-05-25T00:00:00Z Soccer: Brutal eight-day stretch tests FC Tucson's depthDave Ord Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 25, 2013 12:00 am  • 

If they ever hold an "Amazing Race" for soccer teams, put your money on FC Tucson.

So maybe San Antonio and Ventura, aren't as exotic as Santiago and Vienna, but the pro development league team has had its fair share of traveling and knows how to avoid elimination in the most dramatic of ways.

And it's just two weeks into the season.

Since its May 11 season opener, FC Tucson has won three matches - including two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches against professional teams - and drawn once.

Now, it gets intense. Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with even greater challenges.

FC Tucson will have to play four away matches in the next eight days.

It starts tonight against the Ventura (Calif.) County Fusion, the USL Premier Development League Southwest Division leader, and, with no rest for the weary, continues the next night with a league contest against OC Blues Strikers FC in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Then on Wednesday, there's the not-so-small matter of playing the biggest match in franchise history when it heads to Texas to go up against Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.

The road stretch ends next Saturday with a league rematch against the Southern California Seahorses in La Mirada.

"When we put our roster together we knew that we needed to be deep, so we will be tested this weekend on the depth of our roster," FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz said. "Because the group is playing so well, most coaches are usually hesitant to make changes. You just try and recover their bodies as quickly as you can and you make the same 11 do it again. …

"So against Ventura, we'll probably play the (usual) starting back four, but the entire front six will be a different group. There will actually be a couple of players that just got out of school."

Matches early in the season rarely determine the league race, but the first match of the four-game journey will certainly be of importance.

Ventura County, last year's champion, leads the Southwest Division with the maximum nine points in three matches. FC Tucson enters the weekend in a tie for second after netting four of a possible six points.

FC Tucson was the runner-up in 2012, partly because it managed just one point in two matches with Ventura County.

"Every game, we have to play. There's not a game that we can't show up for," center midfielder David Clemens said. "This team knows that and we're going to show up for every single game."

Stoppage time

• Forward Ricardo Velazco informed the club's media-relations director and social-media manager H. Jose Bosch at Tuesday's win in San Antonio that his last name is spelled with a "z" rather than an "s." Even though almost all websites - including his college bio and his player history page on the U.S. Soccer Development Academy site - list his last name as "Velasco," the Casa Grande native says the correct spelling is "Velazco."

Today

• What: Ventura County vs. FC Tucson

• Where: Ventura (Calif.) College

• When: 7 p.m.

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