For the first seven games of the season, FC Tucson’s Manuel Ferriol watched his team from 6,000 miles away. He wondered when he’d have a chance to suit up for the Men in Black.
Ferriol, a native of Valencia, Spain, signed with the club in February, but COVID-19 lockdowns in his country put a six-month freeze on bringing the highly touted midfielder to the United States. The United States Embassy in Madrid was closed for four months, preventing the 22-year-old from obtaining a travel visa.
The issues finally resolved, Ferriol is at last in the Old Pueblo. The Spaniard played 11 minutes as a substitute in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to North Texas SC and is expected to be a regular contributor the rest of the season. FC Tucson (2-5-1) hosts New England Revolution II (1-5-2) on Wednesday night.
“The first time I stepped in the (FC Tucson) locker room, there was a warm welcome to me,” Ferriol said. “I really enjoyed being around the guys and I see a team that is hungry to win.”
Through eight games, though, victories have been at a premium. FC Tucson sits in ninth place in the USL League One standings at the midway point of the season. Since winning its season opener on July 25, FC Tucson has been held to one goal or fewer in five of seven games. During that time, the Men in Black have been shut out twice.
“We’re underachieving for the amount of talent we have,” coach John Galas admitted Tuesday.
FC Tucson has three games scheduled over the next eight days, meaning there’s “no more time for feeling sorry for ourselves or pointing fingers or making excuses,” Galas said.
Wednesday’s home match comes at the right time. New England sits in last place in the USL League One standings; the team’s minus-11 goal differential is by far the worst in the league.
And even though the Men in Black have yet to notch a win in nearly a month, Merriol believes his team is close. He saw as much when he watched online streams from Spain.
“Despite maybe the results weren’t the best,” he said, “you see that the quality is there.”
His coach agrees. Galas is upbeat about the team’s second-half chances if he and his group can correct the early-season mistakes.
“I really believe in this group,” Galas said.
“I think the players do too. And I think you’ll see it (Wednesday).”
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