First off, quickie run down of local media coverage of FC Tucson’s ticket to the playoffs:
- FC Tucson 0, Ogden 0: Tie points way to playoffs, Dave Ord, Arizona Daily Star
- FC Tucson advances into playoffs, KOLD
- FC Tucson draw a map to playoffs, Ted Prezelski, Tucson Sentinel (how’d that get in there?)
What, nothing from KGUN? They were so interested back when they could complain about the bleachers.
Rick Schantz told Dave Ord and me last night that Kareem Smith has been told by two doctors that he needs to rest his leg for a few more days. Schantz expects him to train again with the team starting next Tuesday.
Yes, the team got a shut out without him, but I wonder how many of the second half miscues in the back would have happened if he was there to keep things steady.
Also, along those lines, Schantz is not “resting” players for the trip to California. He plans on taking a full roster for the games against Southern California and Orange County. He’s hoping for a few days of the whole team training, eating and living together to better prepare for the playoffs.
Initial word from the team was that they were not going to put in a bid to host the playoffs, but things may have changed. I plan on putting a call through to Jonathan Pearlman and get a detail or two.
The possible opponents, by the way, are Seattle Sounders U-23, Kitsap Pumas, Washington Crossfire and Portland Timbers U-23. Seattle and Washington are solidly encased in first and fourth position, but a win by Portland on Wednesday could put them in a tie with Kitsap.
As it stands now, Tucson would play the winner of the Seattle-Washington play through match. Unless, of course, Ventura loses to Pali on Wednesday.
Don’t discount that possibility; two of their key players have moved on to professional clubs. Danny Barrera, who spent some time with Cal FC during their Open Cup run, has been picked up by the Atlanta Silverbacks. Not by coincidence, Cal FC maestro Eric Wynalda now coaches the Silverbacks. Rodrigo Lopez has moved back to the professional ranks with Orlando City. That, plus the possibility of letting off the gas for a team whose place in the playoffs is assured, could lead Pali to pull another surprise like they did against Fresno.
I had a talk with Orange County coach Jon Spencer (different one) after their game down here, and he was frustrated with the referees and ominously hinted that there was more to the home field advantage than met the eye. It was probably post game emotions rather than him really believing that anything hinky was going on, but expect Friday’s season ending match to be, um…spirited.
And speaking of frustrated opponents: I get a sense from the visiting teams that although they love the locker rooms, love the training facilities, love the field (and likely love staying at the casino), they have, at best, a love-hate relationship with the fans. I’ve had players from three different teams tell me that the fans got into their heads. They like the “soccer environment,” but playing against it is another matter.