Soccer: FC Tucson gets two vs. Fusion at home

2013-06-28T00:00:00Z Soccer: FC Tucson gets two vs. Fusion at homeDave Ord Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

For a team with four of its last five league matches at home, FC Tucson still has miles to go before it can sleep.

With any chance of the division title gone begging after last week's loss, FC Tucson must try to make up a nine-point deficit to earn the other playoff spot in the USL Premier Development League's Southwest Division.

The good news: The next two matches, tonight and Sunday night, are against the second-place Ventura County Fusion. Kickoff both nights will be at 7:30 p.m. at Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5.

"When we put our schedule together, we weren't hoping that we'd have a bunch of home games at the end to try and get into the playoffs," FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz said. "But we definitely knew that near the end of the season that being at home for long stretches is very important and very valuable to get rest and be prepared, assuming you do make the playoffs. You want some fresh bodies."

FC Tucson will have more fresh bodies than Ventura County when the teams face off in an unusual back-to-back series.

"That's life in the PDL," Schantz said of consecutive matches against the same foe. "The advantage to us is that it's at home because we have a 26-man roster, and we can really, really push hard for the first one (tonight). They're only going to be able to travel with 18 to 20 players, so my guess is that they won't be very fresh on Sunday.

"I could probably put out an entirely new squad on Sunday night. We've added five players just recently, four from Santa Clara, and (2012 standout midfielder) Aaron Long is back in the mix. So I think we're ready; we're at full strength."

Schantz said the strength in numbers will be just one factor in the two-match series.

"This weekend against Ventura, we're going to change things up a little bit," said Schantz, who didn't want to discuss the specifics of the formational changes. "It will be the first time we've changed our system this year."

Two wins this weekend would put FC Tucson just three points behind Ventura County. The Tucson club would then have to win out and have Ventura lose at least one match. Any other results over the next three days, and the club's chances are slimmer than the twine on a goal net.

There was some confusion over how the playoff teams would be determined, but Schantz confirmed the top two teams in the division advance to the playoffs. FC Tucson reached the postseason last year by finishing second in the division.

TSAFC tops division

Tucson Soccer Academy FC couldn't be off to a better start in its first year in the Women's Premier Soccer League.

TSAFC has won its first three matches, outscoring its opponents 16-2, and is tied for first with the Phoenix Del Sol in the WPSL's Big Sky-North Division. Both teams have nine points, but Phoenix has played two more matches.

TSAFC will face the Utah Starzz at 5:15 p.m. today, before the FC Tucson match. Expected to be one of the teams to beat in the five-team division, the Starzz have seven points from four matches.

Stoppage time

• Ventura County signed former FC Tucson goalkeeper Brendan Roslund this week. The 22-year-old started 10 matches with FC Tucson last season.

• Former Tucson Soccer Academy and Sierra Vista Buena High School standout Luis Robles is one of 19 goalkeepers on the MLS All-Star Game ballot. Fans can vote for Robles, who is fifth in the league in saves with 49, online at mlssoccer.com/all-star/2013/vote. Voting ends Tuesday, and the game will be July 31 against Italian club AS Roma.

Today

• What: Ventura County Fusion at FC Tucson

• When: 7:30 p.m.

• Where: Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5

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