The Phoenix Monsoon starts their NPSL season today in a game against Fullerton Rangers.
I’m not sure how to gauge the Monsoon at this point. They had an indoor season last year, and have graduated, for lack of a better word, to the outdoor ranks. They have brought in a new coach, Juan Daniel Ochoa, who put in time with Cruz Azul. The Monsoon have had an active preseason, dropping two US Open Cup qualifiers to the San Diego Flash and San Diego Boca FC (although, the loss to the Flash was in penalty kicks). They also got thrashed by FC Edmonton, 5-0.
I would like to point out here that FC Tucson played that same team to a 1-1 draw a week earlier.
They are still a new team, so I should give them a break. Several of their players are folks that have trained with FC Tucson, including midfielder Pat Perkins. It would be easy to say that the Monsoon is taking FC Tucson’s leftovers (and give the Cactus Pricks time, they will), but also remember the time commitment that FC Tucson is demanding of its players. It’s hard for quality players from Phoenix to make that commitment to a team in Tucson, which is why it’s a good thing to have the Monsoon existing and active.
I still think that right now, los Tucsonenses are likely the better team. They held their own against two MLS squads back in February. A game against a third MLS team, Sporting Kansas City, resulted in a four-goal loss. Of course, it’s looking like MLS teams are having a hard time beating Sporting.
It’s not just preseason results, but their experience last year as a “provisional” team has enabled them to develop relationships with USL and MLS teams as well as college coaches in neighboring states. This has given them a rather impressive pool of players to tap into.
Not that the Monsoon are total slouches in this department. The Phoenix area boasts of several junior colleges whose players have gone on to MLS. I had a talk with Alex Gago, media relations person for the team, and he boasted of contacts already with Glendale Community College, Scottsdale Community College and Grand Canyon University.
FC Tucson brags of the “professional” environment they have set up (made easier by availability of abandoned Major League Baseball facilities), which will give them a leg up on recruiting players over the Monsoon. If they are smart, the Monsoon will ramp up and make sure Tucson doesn’t have this advantage long.