As many soccer fans in the Tucson area learned last week, head coach Jon Galas and FC Tucson agreed to part ways — this decision coming after the team’s most recent loss at Union Omaha by a score of 1-0.
Galas took over for the Men in Black last year and posted a 6-6-1 record with a sixth-place spot in the USL League One Division.
FC Tucson has posted a 2-4-3 record this season after an 0-2 start.
With Galas out, FC Tucson looked to their own front office to replace him for the time being.
Jon Pearlman, the director of soccer operations, will take control of the team as interim coach.
Pearlman and the Men in Black have a tough challenge for them Saturday as they face fourth-place Fort Lauderdale CF 7 p.m. at Kino North Complex. He feels he and his players have trained for these moments and are up to the task.
“It’s been a challenging week for us,” Pearlman said. “It’s never easy when a coaching change is in front of us, but it’s been a good week, too.
“The staff and players have responded really well. We’ve had a really good week of training. We scored a lot of goals. Overall, the staff and team is looking very much forward to the game here against Fort Lauderdale. We’re looking in really good form and we hope to get a result.”
Pearlman has been a staple for Tucson soccer, coaching Sabino High School to a state title, starting the Tanque Verde Youth Soccer Club, and being one of the original owners of FC Tucson. He is once again coaching the organization.
“My roots here were in Sabino soccer, building that program up and winning a state title. starting Tanque Verde soccer club which is now partnered with Tucson soccer, to making the FC Tucson youth soccer group, which is now the most successful soccer club in Southern Arizona,” Pearlman said. “To be back in my hometown, Tucson soccer is everything to me. We’ve developed MLS players. We hope to develop future MLS players here and in the academy.
“The most important thing is that it means something to me as a Tucsonan to be on the bench for this team. Obviously I wish it was under better circumstances but opportunities find themselves in different ways. The most important thing is to help this team through this period and finding the right coach for this club in the long-term. Hopefully I can do that by winning games.”
Following his many years of high school and club experience, Pearlman played four years for Union College in New York. After that, he went on to becoming one of the original founding members of FC Tucson.
He acted as the head coach in 2017 and earned FC Tucson a qualifying spot in the US Open Cup. He did the same for Oklahoma City Energy in 2018.
Pearlman rejoined FC Tucson after the sting at Oklahoma City, this time as the director of operations. He hopes that his 25-plus years of experience is just what his team needs. He went 18-7-3 in 2016-17 in his previous stint as FC Tucson coach.
“In this building, I’ve had every job you could possibly imagine, so I know what this team needs from the front office and in this division,” Pearlman said. “The team needs to be connected from the front office to the ground floor. It starts from recruiting a player in the off-season to building your staff, all the way to getting it done on the field,
“I have a lot of experience, a lot of good experience. I’ve had a lot of jobs that have prepared me for this. The staff we have, which is excellent, has a chance to be collaborative with me, which is what I looked for. We’re in the best possible position for when we get to the bench on Saturday night. We’re as prepared as can be and a lot of the players feel really confident as can be to step in between those white lines which would obviously result in wins for us and gets the fans really excited.”
FC Tucson vs. Fort Lauderdale CF information from FC Tucson:
Tucson will see the return of Noah Franke and Gio Calixtro. The pair sat out the 1-0 loss to Union Omaha last weekend after picking up red cards in the previous week against North Texas SC.
Calixtro is tied for second in the league with three assists, while goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley leads the league with 38 saves.
Fort Lauderdale in fourth in the league at 5-6-2, having played a league-high 13 matches. The team is coming off three straight matches with Toronto FC II, having gone 1-1-1 in the stretch against the MLS reserve club.
Fort Lauderdale also leads USL League One with 20 goals and is second with a 16 percent conversion rate, and 5,455 passes – 565 more than the second highest club.
Shaan Hundal is third in the league with five goals, while Venton Evans has four. George Acosta leads the league with six assists and is tied for first with 26 chances created. Acosta had a goal and two assists in the May 16 match against Tucson, including assisting on Abel Caputo’s goal just two minutes into the game.
On the defense, Luis Zamudio is fifth in the league with 20 saves.
FC will celebrate Salute To The Troops. The game will be followed by a fireworks show.
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Nathaniel Martinez is an aspiring sports journalist who is a Sahuaro High School graduate and Pima Community College student. He has written for the Aztec Press at Pima. While at Sahuaro, he played football for longtime coach Scott McKee and he wrestled.