The marquee matchup between FC Tucson and division leader Fresno had plenty of tension and its fair share of contentiousness.
But for FC Tucson, Saturday night's soccer match also included a bevy of missed chances and a 1-0 loss to Fuego before 1,015 at Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5.
The crowd, which was the franchise's highest attendance ever for a USL Premier Development League match, watched a scoreless first half before Fresno's Paul Islas connected in the 56th minute and then FC Tucson spent the final 30 minutes searching for an equalizer.
It was a far cry from Thursday night's 9-1 win over OC Blues Strikers FC.
"Thursday night everyone was clicking, and tonight there was two passes when we needed three and we were one pass when we needed to be two," FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz said. "Once we start to get a little bit of failure and things start to struggle, it gets too individualized and the guys try to start to do things on their own. I think that's where it all fell apart."
The loss was a blow to FC Tucson's hopes of winning the USL Premier Development League's Southwest Division. Halfway through the USL PDL season, FC Tucson sits in third place with nine points. Fresno upped its division-leading total to 16 points.
After almost 60 minutes of back-and-forth play with quite a few fouls and a couple of yellow cards, Fresno ended the deadlock. A teammate's shot rebounded off FC Tucson goalkeeper Michael D'Arrigo and straight to Islas, who easily tapped it in for his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
The men in black pushed forward, holding possession for much of the final 30 minutes, but failed to find the equalizer. One of the better chances belonged to Ricardo Velazco in the 87th minute. He cut across the top of the box and hit a laser strike as he was falling. But Fresno goalkeeper Beau Diaz reached out and snagged it.
In stoppage time, FC Tucson had a header that went wide by Ryan Felix and another chance that went begging in a crowded box in the 94th minute.
"We've had that kind of luck in the past, and the guys have really dug in and got things like that done," Schantz said of the squad's ability to pull out late goals at home.
Both teams had solid chances in the first five minutes. FC Tucson midfielder Connor Brandt had to clear a sizzling shot by Fresno off the line in the third minute. Less than 60 seconds later at the other end, Brandt's free kick rattled the crossbar.
Just before the halfway point of the first half, FC Tucson weathered a couple of questionable decisions by the officials.
Defender Edgar Reyna was called for a foul just outside the box despite looking like his foot struck the ball and the ball struck Tyler Reinhart in the face. After the ensuing free kick was blocked, the ball popped up and fell to Fresno's Dylan Murphy. The midfielder's shot was stopped by D'Arrigo and cleared as FC Tucson players complained that Murphy was offside.
Fresno had the better chances for most of the first 25 minutes, but FC Tucson began to gain more possession and push forward but could not create a goal, leaving it 0-0 at the break.
• Playing its first home match ever, Tucson Soccer Academy FC routed St. George (Utah) United 7-0 in the opener of Saturday's doubleheader. TSAFC is 2-0 in its first season in the Women's Premier Soccer League.
Kaitlyn Lopez scored twice while Tamra James, Karina Camacho, Elizabeth Fritz, Laura Pimienta and Laura St. John also found the net.
• Goalkeeper Dallas Jaye accepted the "Golden Saguaro" trophy from Tucson City Councilman Paul Cunningham at halftime of Saturday's FC Tucson match.
The traveling trophy will be given to the team that wins the match between the top Tucson and Phoenix teams. FC Tucson defeated Phoenix FC 2-1 on May 14 in a Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup first-round match.
• Who: FC Tucson at SoCal Seahorses
• When: 7 p.m. Tuesday