Friday night was a fitting end to the 2019 season for FC Tucson — its first season as a fully-professional club, playing in the newly-created USL League One.
Moments of promise, followed by mistakes and a lack of quality in its finishing, adding up to a 3-1 loss to first-place North Texas SC (17-6-5) at Kino Stadium.
The Men in Black finished the season in eighth place at 8-11-9 with 33 points.
Having clinched first place in the USL League One already, North Texas, the reserve team of Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas, used the opportunity to call up a number of players from its youth academy teams.
The average age of the North Texas starting lineup was 19 — highlighted by a pair of 16-year olds and nobody over the age of 22 — compared to nearly 24 years of age for the Men in Black.
“I’m not a believer in age being important,” FC Tucson defender and captain Kyle Venter said. “If you’re good enough, you’re good enough — and they’re good enough.”
North Texas took a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute when Edwin Cerrillo back-heeled a low free kick from Arturo Rodriguez, with the ball deflecting off FC Tucson’s Jordan Jones and into the net for an own goal.
It became 2-0 in the 38th after FC Tucson defender Kody Wakasa’s attempted clearance didn’t go far enough and allowed Oscar Romero to score from 10 yards out.
The Men in Black did try to use its height advantage, targeting forward Jordan Jones in the penalty area on a number of occasions, to try and get back into the game.
It worked, with FC Tucson responding just before halftime after Jones’ team-leading 10th goal of the season in the 43rd minute.
Jose Carlos Terron’s corner kick went past the far post, finding an unmarked Kyle Venter, who headed it back across goal to meet a diving Jones.
“We know on set pieces, we’re dangerous,” said Jones, who was named the team’s most valuable player following the game.
North Texas effectively put the game away in the 65th minute with Romero’s second goal.
Rodriguez’s quick dribbling in the penalty area eluded two defenders and allowed him to cross directly into Romero’s stride for the finish to make it 3-1.
“We gave away two soft goals early, and it’s hard to come back when you do that,” FC Tucson coach Darren Sawatzky said.
- FC Tucson only had possession for a third of the game, but outshot North Texas 14-7.
- Defender Lamar Batista missed the game serving a mandatory suspension for accumulating five yellow cards on the season.