The history of the US Open Cup is full of scrappy, amateur teams beating experienced, professional sides. We’ve seen it happen more than once this year already.
It did not, however, happen at Kino Stadium on Wednesday night, as FC Tucson fell to their northern neighbors Arizona United SC by a score of 5–0 at Tucson’s Kino Stadium.
It started off well for the hosts, said long time FC Tucson player Dom Papa.
“I thought when we came out we played well,” he said. “For the first twenty or twenty five minutes we controlled the game; we looked good in the midfield. But you know, they are big, they are fast, they play direct. I just think we weren’t ready to handle that kind of play.”
“We gave up one, and the wheels fell apart,” he added.
That “one” came in the 28th minute after a foul just outside the box set up English midfielder Luke Rooney for a free kick. He easily got it past Tucson keeper Borja Angiota.
Long Tan extended the lead for the visitors minutes later, finding the back of the net after slaloming through FC Tucson’s back line. Gibson Bardsley closed out the half with another goal for Arizona moments before the close of the half.
A fourth goal came from United’s Tyler Blackwood just minutes into the second half, but then came a spot of hope for the home team: a red card for Arizona’s Gibson Bardsley for poorly timed tackle on Tucson’s Sean Keith.
It was still hard for FC Tucson to take a shot when they got into the final third, thanks to the work of Arizona center full back Uchenna Uzo.
“There are not many players that are as big as I am on the field, and I think he’s twice my size,” said Tucson’s Papa, who the team has counted on for physical play in past years. “When you have a center back there that can destroy every attack we try to start, well, he’s a different level.”
Whatever spark that gave FC Tucson was extinguished in the 67th minute with Long Tan’s second goal. A flurry of shots from the home team in the closing moments of the match excited the crowd, but still left a zero on the board when the whistle blew.
Interestingly, FC Tucson’s defense only allowed a handful of shots. They went in and that’s what counts says United coach Frank Yallop.
“Our finishing was excellent. We were clinical when we had the chances. That’s the game,” he said after the match. “Long, Tyler Blackwood and Rooney showed their qualities today. I was proud of the whole team but I think they were pretty sharp in front of the goal.”
“We didn’t take the game for granted. We were 4-0 and got a red card and still scored another goal,” he added. “That’s a good sign for our league play.”
Arizona United is scheduled to play Colorado Springs Switchbacks in the next round, which is scheduled for June 1. The winner will play the Colorado Rapids in Round 4.
FC Tucson v Arizona United
Kino North Stadium
AZU – Luke Rooney (27’)
AZU – Long Tan (33’)
AZU – Gibson Bardsley (45’+)
AZU – Tyler Blackwood (47’)
AZU – Tan (68’)
FCT – Dom Papa (27’, caution)
AZU – Gibson Bardsley (41’, caution)
FCT – Sean Keith (43’, caution)
AZU –Bardsley (54’, second caution, ejection)
FC Tucson: Borja Angoitia –Aaron Herrera (Edgar Reyna 77’), Gonnie Ben-Tal, Kyle Adams- Sean Keith, Evan Waldrep, Dom Papa, Musa Morris (Tate Schmitt 45’) – Jon Bakero, Minh Vu, Damian German (Alfonso Pinhiero 45’)
Arizona United SC: Carl Wosczcynski – Daniel Antúnez, Uchenna Uzo, Julian Ringhof, Brandon Poltronieri – Gibson Bardsley (ejected 54’), Miguel Timm (Blair Gavin 37’), Sam Garza – Luke Rooney (Duncan McCormick 58’), Long Tan, Tyler Blackwood (Tony Cascio 77’)