Not a cloud was on the sky, the temperature was a cool high 60 degrees, the grass seemed to glimmer from the sun — it was a great day to watch FC Tucson’s first match back in action for 2022.
“It feels good,” FC Tucson winger Deri Corfe said. “We knew it was gonna be a good run for the boys, so we just wanted to get the legs, the fitness in. We’re new to each other so it was just about playing good football today.”
Fans of the Men In Black got to enjoy the preseason match on Kino North’s Field 1. Friends and family brought their lawn chairs and sat as close to the action as possible.
Oakland took the 1-0 victory, but overall, FC Tucson looked good considering it was the first live match this year.
“We’re really happy,” Pearlman said. “We look at this as a high intensity training session. I thought the players worked incredibly hard. I was really happy with the work. We saw some of the features of some of the new guys, what they can bring to the table. In general, once we got our feet in 10 minutes in, the defensive block improved.”
Plenty of familiar faces from last season are on the roster.
Aside from Corfe, Luca Mastrantonio, Kaelon Fox, Joao Delgado, Daniel Bedoya, Gio Calixtro and Brandon Sanchez (Canyon Del Oro grad) were all names that played last year during FC Tucson’s historic run to the USL League One semifinals. They are again on the starting roster.
Another recognizable face played on the pitch, only he was wearing an Oakland Roots jersey.
FC Tucson’s former midfielder Charlie Dennis signed with the USL Championship team on Jan. 19 and is now starting for them.
Dennis scored the only goal of the match.
Charlie Dennis grabs the first goal of the game…for Oakland
— FC Tucson (@FCTucson) February 26, 2022
Other names not on FC Tucson’s rosters — goaltender Wallis Lapsley and winger/forward Shak Adams.
Lapsley came off of a year in which he had 91 saves, which was the highest amount by a goalkeeper in the USL League One. He also finished with five clean sheets, the fifth most in the division.
He is now trying to make the Seattle Sounders roster.
Adams finished off last season tied for 10th in goals made with eight. Like Dennis, Adams made the move to the USL Championship league. He is currently on the roster for the Charleston Battery.
Three 30-minute periods were played in Saturday’s preseason match. For those three periods, Pearlman ran different groups.
It was hard for Pearman to think of any specific person or group that impressed him, as he felt everyone performed well.
“If I look at the overall, I felt like the players showed pieces of what they can do,” Pearlman said. “I thought Tarn Weir was really good on the left. I think we need to get him the ball on those underlaps and overlaps a bit more. Moving him as a potential left back is obviously really good.”
FC Tucson’s next preseason match is scheduled Mar. 5 when they will take on Phoenix Rising FC at TBC Stadium in Phoenix.
They will then head to City Stadium in Richmond, Va., for one more tune-up match against the Richmond Kickers on April 2 at 3:30 p.m. before their first match in the US Open Cup that begins April 5.