Soccer: Draw puts damper on FC Tucson's playoff hopes

2013-07-01T00:00:00Z Soccer: Draw puts damper on FC Tucson's playoff hopesDave Ord Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

All of the advantages FC Tucson expected to have going into Sunday night's vital match appeared to be swept away with the monsoon that arrived about an hour before the scheduled kickoff.

The taxing 105 degree heat dropped about 20 degrees, and the crowd of 227 lacked its usual numbers as well as its usual life.

Then FC Tucson's David Clemens scored in the 78th minute, and the men in black had the lifeline they needed.

But, in the fiercely fought final minutes, the lifeline was pulled away when Harrison Delbridge's goal in the 93rd minute gave the Ventura County Fusion an equalizer.

The 1-1 draw at Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5 means FC Tucson's chance of making the playoffs is almost nil.

The Fresno Fuego leads the USL Premier Development League's Southwest Division with 28 points. Ventura County is second with 22, followed by L.A. Misioneros FC (20 points) and FC Tucson (16). The top two teams make the playoffs.

With just three league matches left, FC Tucson will need to win them all and have other league matches go in its favor.

"None of that matters. We just have to think about one game at a time," FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz said. "I'm not disappointed. ... The wind and the elements made it very difficult."

In a match that started 45 minutes late due to the rain and lightning, both teams had trouble putting anything together.

It took until the 78th minute for someone to get on the scoreboard.

Ricardo Velazco of FC Tucson cut a free kick on the ground and Clemens latched onto it to give the locals a 1-0 lead.

But Ventura County, which finished the match with five yellow cards and one red card, fought back and scored when Delbridge rose above the FC Tucson defense on a free kick and looped a header over goalkeeper Dallas Jaye.

"In the first half, I thought the guys did a great job with the wind in their faces," Schantz said. "In the second half, with the wind at our back and the man advantage, we didn't play the way I wanted to."

To start the second half, Ventura County brought in former FC Tucson standout Brendan Roslund to take over in goal.

The Fusion, which had already amassed three yellow cards in the first half, added a red when Dylan Riley took down Velazco near the center circle as the FC Tucson midfielder was trying to begin one of his runs down the center of the pitch in the 45th minute.

FC Tucson quickly tried to take advantage. In the third minute of stoppage time, Velazco stole the ball and began dribbling forward but wasn't able to link up with a teammate, leaving the game scoreless at the half.

Stoppage time

• The Chapman Tucson Champions League final played prior to FC Tucson's match Sunday was halted in the 59th minute with Xolos leading Celaya 1-0.

The match will be resumed at a later date to determine which team will earn the right to face FC Tucson on Saturday.

• For the second straight match, FC Tucson went without a goalkeeper on the bench. But Schantz said after Friday night's match, he was not too concerned.

Defender "Edgar Reyna has played goalkeeper most of his life. Worst-case scenario, if I had to put a goalkeeper jersey on him I would have," Schantz said.

• FC Tucson players stuck their heads out the doors of the training facility to see the monsoon rains pelt down on the Kino Sports Complex grounds.

"I haven't seen rain in two months," one of them said.

Up next

• Who: FC Tucson at BYU

• When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

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