FC Tucson had a “turn back the clock” night without even touching the hands of the dial Tuesday night.
On the chance that the team might host some playoff matches next week, the site of Tuesday’s match was switched after the morning rain from Kino Sports Complex North Stadium to the team’s previous confines, North Field No. 5.
The final score, however, stayed contemporary. In its 10th win in 11 home matches this season, FC Tucson defeated the Arizona Sahuaros 4-2 before 640 fans in a friendly to wrap up its regular season. Christian Volesky, Andres Acosta and Ricardo Velazco scored for FC Tucson.
“It was unplanned, but it’s a throwback night,” FC Tucson chief business officer Chris Keeney said. “We’re kicking it old school all the way back to 2013.”
The decision to switch to the site where FC Tucson played its matches in 2012 and 2013 came just six hours before Tuesday’s contest.
“We did not want to take a risk to damage the North Stadium field,” Keeney said. “If we get to host the playoffs, we did not want present a less-than-spectacular field. Because we have the facility with six gorgeous fields and one of them has a grandstand, we said ‘just move it over to Field No. 5 and it will still be a great night for everyone involved.’ ”
FC Tucson is bidding to host the second round of the playoffs at North Stadium on July 25 and 26 if the team wins Saturday’s first-round match in Las Vegas.
There was even an opponent from the past. The Arizona Sahuaros met FC Tucson twice in the club’s first season, 2011. In the first match, they drew 3-3 before 10,097 as part of the Desert Diamond Cup doubleheader with Major League Soccer teams at Hi Corbett Field. Later in 2011, FC Tucson won 2-0 at Murphey Stadium.
Even the music stayed with the impromptu theme, as hits from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s – including Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” that had a filled grandstand singing along — blaring from the speakers.
“We’re actually really happy we got to play on this field,” FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz said. “The surface on this field is a little bit better than our game field anyways and it gives the game field a little bit of a rest. It’s always fun to come back. The thing we miss being in the North Stadium is that you don’t get to see the sunset from the bench. So we all enjoyed that tonight.”
FC Tucson will face L.A. Misioneros FC at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Las Vegas in the first round of the USL Premier Development League playoffs. A win will advance FC Tucson to the second round, or conference semifinals, to be played next weekend at a site to be decided.
Volesky opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he picked up a through ball and slotted it along the ground and past goalkeeper Christopher Valentine.
Acosta doubled the lead in the 17th after a long run that he finished with a ball just inside the post.
Sahuaros forward Cesar Mejia tapped in a cross by Harvey Martinez to cut it to 2-1 in the 26th minute.
Just before the halftime whistle, FC Tucson regained its two-goal lead on an own goal by Fito Collazo after Velazco’s corner in the 45th minute wasn’t cleared.
FC Tucson continued with the pressure in the second half and managed to notch a fourth goal when Velazco converted a penalty in the 67th minute. It was the eighth goal of the season for Velazco, who chipped in the penalty after being taken down in the box and then hearing an opponent trash-talk just before the kick.
“As a player, you don’t want to be disrespected, especially in a one-v-one situation like that,” Velazco said. “I’m not really going to talk back to him when it’s a PK like that. So I found a way I could disrespect him back by chipping it down the middle.”