After spending last season in the Midwest, FC Tucson defender Tyler Allen is back in the desert and off to a hot start.
Allen posted the game-winning goal in FC Tucson’s 3-2 win over the Las Vegas Lights in last week’s U.S. Open Cup, and will start at right back on Saturday, when FC Tucson takes on his former team, Forward Madison FC, in their USL League One home opener.
“I think that will be fun, man,” Allen said. “It’ll be fun to see some familiar faces, see some of the old coaches, and this is a game I really, really want to win.”
Allen’s showing in Forward Madison’s win at future USL League One champion Union Omaha last season impressed FC Tucson coach and technical director Jon Pearlman. The Honolulu native checked all of Pearlman’s boxes: He has the requisite physical ability, experience and coachability to be a standout in Tucson.
“Wherever he’s needed, he wants to go; he’s low-maintenance and just a guy who has experience,” Pearlman said.
Allen played collegiately at UNLV and during the summers of 2018 and 2019 for FC Golden State Force in USL League Two. He signed with Reno 1868 of the USL Championship; when the club folded late 2020, he joined Forward Madison.
Allen had his reasons for signing with Tucson.
“I really liked what Jon Pearlman had going for the team and the way he likes to play, his style of play his morals and how we spoke to me about the team and what he wanted from me,” Allen said.
Pearlman said Allen’s start to the season has been “excellent.”
Allen played on the wing against Las Vegas, but with defender Tyler Moss serving a red-card suspension, Allen will be at right back on Saturday.
Forecasts call for temperatures in the 80s at kickoff, which won’t be a problem. Allen is comfortable in warm weather dating to his time in college.
“We know a UNLV kid is going to be able to deal with the summer heat, and relish in it, thrive in it. It’s a plus when you’re looking at a player and you know they played in this environment, which does make a difference,” Pearlman said. “He’ll be great all the way through and just happy to have him fit and ready to go.”
Allen said he was “really excited” to deliver the eventual winning goal in the U.S. Open Cup. FC Tucson will play its next Open Cup match on Tuesday against the Cal United Strikers.
“For me personally, scoring the winning goal, I was really excited to do that for the team,” Allen said. “(It) got a little scary when they scored a second one to almost come back, but we defended well at the end and got the win out.”
After a couple months of waiting, FC Tucson is finally at full strength. The team had only 16 players available for its last U.S. Open Cup match due to injuries and players not yet arriving.
Recently acquired English midfielder Charlie Machell and forward Deri Corfe, who was second on the team in goals last year, will both be available for Saturday. Forward Franco Peréz, who is on loan from Club Atletico Aldosivi of the Argentine first division, has joined FC Tucson but is not likely to play yet.
Pearlman said Jamaican international and midfielder Tevin Shaw can play 60 to 70 minutes — or even the full 90, if necessary.
The first 300 fans to arrive at Saturday’s match will receive a “monsoon stick flag.” It features the FC Tucson crest and the “monsoon” black and red lightning bolts design that’s on the team’s new home jerseys.
Photos: FC Tucson outlasts Las Vegas Lights 3-2 in US Open Cup
FC Tucson’s Tyler Allen watches his shot rip over Las Vegas goalkeeper Abraham Romero late in the second half of last week’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game at Kino North Stadium. Allen’s blast ended up the game winner in a 3-2 game.