FC Tucson Article

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FC Tucson
FC Tucson.jpg
Full nameFC Tucson
FoundedOctober 10, 2010; 8 years ago (2010-10-10)
Stadium Kino Sports Complex
North Stadium [1]
Capacity2,900 [2]
Owner Phoenix Rising FC
Head Coach Darren Sawatzky
League USL League One
2018 (PDL)2nd, Mountain Division
Playoffs: Conference Final
Website Club website

FC Tucson is an American soccer club based in Tucson, Arizona that will play in USL League One starting in 2019. [3] Organized in 2010, the club first fielded a team in March 2011, then joined the Premier Development League (PDL) Western Conference in 2012. [4]

Tucson plays their home games at the 2,900-seat Kino Sports Complex North Stadium constructed in 2013. [1] [2] [5] [6]


Beginnings: 2010–2011

FC Tucson was founded in 2010 to bring preseason Major League Soccer events to Tucson and generate interest in a new soccer club. [4] The organization first fielded a team on March 4, 2011 against the New York Red Bulls reserves in the 2011 Desert Cup, a 3–1 loss. [7] The club's first goal was scored by former Pima Community College and Salpointe Catholic High School player Fernando Gauna after entering the match as a substitute. Later in 2011 Tucson competed against various teams from the region in a loosely organized exhibition league. [8] Their first match following the Desert Cup took place on May 13, a 7–2 victory over Yavapai FC. [9] On December 15, 2011, FC Tucson announced its move to the PDL. [10]

Early PDL and Open Cup success: 2012–2013

In its first season of play in the United Soccer League's Premier Development League (USL PDL) the team placed second in the Western Conference Southwest Division with a record of 9 wins, 3 losses and 4 ties, riding a ten-game unbeaten streak (7 wins, 3 ties) from May 12 until June 30. [11] In postseason play Tucson lost 2–1 to Seattle Sounders FC U-23 in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. [12] Defender Conor Spence was named to the All-Western Conference Team. [13] [14] The club was named 2012 PDL Rookie Franchise of the Year. [15] [16]

In May 2013 FC Tucson notched back-to-back victories over professional clubs to reach the third round of the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. In the tournament's first round Tucson defeated Phoenix FC of the USL Pro 2–1 on an injury-time game winner scored by Connor Bevans. [17] [18] [19] [20] Next they defeated the San Antonio Scorpions of the NASL in a 4–3 penalty shoot-out to break a 2–2 tie. [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] The run ended in Houston where they fell 2–0 to the MLS Dynamo. [26] [27] [28] As the first ever PDL club to defeat professional clubs in back-to-back matches, Tucson won the full $15,000 prize awarded to the PDL club with the best Open Cup finish. (Three other PDL teams also reached the third round.) [29] [30] [31] Tucson did not qualify for the PDL postseason in 2013, finishing fifth in the Southwest with 5 Wins, 5 Losses and 4 Ties. [32]

Mountain Division Dominance: 2014–2017

In 2014, competing in the newly created Mountain Division, FC Tucson won its first division title with 11 wins, 1 draw, and 2 losses in league play. The club recorded its first ever playoff victory with a 2–1 win over the Los Angeles Misioneros in Las Vegas. [33] The best regular-season record in the Western Conference earned Tucson the right to host the conference final four at Kino North Stadium where they defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 1–0 in the conference semifinals on a stoppage-time goal by Juan Sebastian De Rada. Tucson's postseason run came to an end in the Western Conference Championship game with a 3–0 loss to the Kitsap Pumas. [34] Team captain Ricardo Velazco, a midfielder, was named PDL Young (U21) Player of the Year. Billy Thompson was named PDL Goalkeeper of the Year. Both players were named to the All-League and All-Western Conference Teams. [35] [36] FC Tucson was named PDL Organization of the Year. [37]

Tucson claimed its second-straight Mountain Division title in 2015 with a record of 8–2–4 in regular-season Premier Development League play. [38] Their two losses came against Albuquerque Sol FC on the road and Real Colorado at home. [39] [40] [41] In a July 4 home rematch against Albuquerque Tucson won 2–0 to claim the 2015 Southwestern Showdown rivalry series and retain possession of the Golden Rattler trophy. [42] Tucson's regular season concluded with four straight wins: at home against Real Colorado and against the Sol, and on the road against the Southwest Division's Fresno Fuego and OC Blues U23. [43] The streak put Tucson one point ahead of the Sol in the final PDL Mountain Division standings. [38] [44] [45]

Tucson defeated Albuquerque 2–1 at home in the 2015 postseason qualifier, and once again was selected to host the Western Conference final four. [46] After beating the previously-undefeated Kitsap Pumas 4–1 in the semis, the home side lost in the conference championship for the second-straight year, this time to the Seattle Sounders FC U-23 by a score of 2–1. [47] [48] [49] Forward Pedro Espindola and Defender Kalem Scott were named to the All-Western Conference team. [50]


FC Tucson was purchased by Phoenix Rising FC of the United Soccer League on October 11, 2017 and will serve as its PDL affiliate. [51] [52] [53]

  • Greg Foster, Chris Keeney, Jon Pearlman & Rick Schantz (until 2017)
  • Phoenix Rising FC (2017–present)


FC Tucson's badge was designed by Erik von Weber prior to the 2011 Desert Cup. Similar in appearance to the traditional soccer shield, the badge is instead shaped like an arrowhead in homage to Tucson's pre-Columbian history. [54] The badge was simplified in 2012 with the removal of five diamonds which arced above the crest to represent the major mountain ranges of the Tucson valley but had been confused with stars, typically used in football badges to represent titles won. [55]


Kino Sports Complex North Stadium (2014–)
Kino North Stadium was dedicated on October 30, 2013. [56] [57] The stadium seats 2,900 with 1,800 in a partially-covered grandstand on the west sideline. [6] [58] The stadium's construction was part of a larger package of soccer facilities improvements to the Kino Sports Complex approved by Pima County's Board of Supervisors in April 2012. [59] FC Tucson defeated MLS Chivas USA 1–0 on November 15, 2013 in the first match held at the stadium. [5] [60]

Kino Sports Complex North Field #5 (2012–2013)
Field #5 was one of five Major League Baseball spring-training practice fields converted for soccer prior to Tucson's first PDL season. Seating was initially limited to an 850-seat grandstand on the west sideline. Bleachers behind the north goal were added later, raising capacity to slightly over 1,000. [1]

Murphey Field at Mulcahy Stadium (2011)
In its first season of play, FC Tucson made use of Murphey Field, home to the University of Arizona women's soccer team. [61]

Club Culture


Members of the local American Outlaws chapter organized an FC Tucson supporters group called the Cactus Pricks after FC Tucson's 2011 Desert Cup appearance. [62]


Football kit (red jersey, white shorts, and blue socks).
July 4th colors

In 2014 FC Tucson announced the Southwestern Showdown, an annual series with Albuquerque Sol FC, a PDL expansion team placed with Tucson in the Western Conference's newly-formed Mountain Division. The club earning the most league points over all regular-season meetings is awarded "The Golden Rattler" trophy to hold for the following year. Ties are broken by goal difference or, if there is none, final division standings. [63] For the final match of the series in both 2014 and 2015, the club wore red jerseys, white shorts, and blue socks in celebration of the 4th of July holiday. On both occasions Tucson won to claim the series title. [42]

La Copa Frontera, a supporters cup competition organized by the Cactus Pricks, the Las Vegas Mobsters' Mob Squad, and Albuquerque's Sandianistas, was organized in 2015. [64] In that year the Sol claimed La Copa with a sweep of the Mobsters, despite ultimately finishing second to Tucson in head-to-head competition by virtue of goal difference. [65]



Year Division League Record Regular Season Playoffs Open Cup
2012 4 USL PDL 9–3–4 2nd, Southwest Conference Semifinals Ineligible
2013 4 USL PDL 5–5–4 5th, Southwest Did not qualify 3rd Round
2014 4 USL PDL 11–2–1 1st, Mountain Conference Final Did not qualify
2015 4 USL PDL 8–2–4 1st, Mountain Conference Final 1st Round
2016 4 USL PDL 11–1–2 1st, Southwest [66] Conference Final 2nd Round
2017 4 USL PDL 9–2–3 1st, Mountain Conference Semifinals 2nd Round
2018 4 USL PDL 7–3–4 2nd, Mountain Conference Final 2nd Round


  • USL PDL Mountain Division Champions 2014, 2015, 2017
  • USL PDL Southwest Division Champions 2016

Player Honors

Year Pos Player Country Honor
2012 D Conor Spence   USA All-Western Conference Team
2014 M Ricardo Velazco   USA PDL Young (U21) Player of the Year
All-League Team
All-Western Conference Team
2014 G Billy Thompson   USA PDL Goalkeeper of the Year
All-League Team
All-Western Conference Team
2015 F Pedro Espindola   BRA All-Western Conference Team
2015 D Kalem Scott   CAN All-Western Conference Team
2016 D Gordon Hall   CAN All-Western Conference Team
2016 M Michael Turner   USA All-Western Conference Team
2017 M Moshe Perez   ISR All-League Team
All-Western Conference Team
2018 D Henry Lander   ENG All-Western Conference Team

Players and staff



Position Name
Director of Soccer Operations United States Jon Pearlman
Head coach United States Darren Sawatzky
Assistant coach United States John Galas

Notable former players

Head coaches

  • United States Rick Schantz (2010–2016)
  • United States Jon Pearlman (2017)
  • United States David Cosgrove (2018)
  • United States Darren Sawatzky (2018–present)


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  56. ^ Join Our Groundbreaking!
  57. ^ ‘This is your house and we’re going to protect it’
  58. ^ "The North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex". fctucson.com. March 6, 2013.
  59. ^ FC Tucson Finds Home At Kino Sports Complex
  60. ^ FC Tucson 1–0 Chivas USA
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External links