It was another rough day on the pitch for FC Tucson as it dropped a second straight match this month, including Wednesday’s troublesome 2-0 loss to last-place North Carolina FC at Kino North coming off a bye week.
The loss to North Carolina FC (6-15-4, 22 points) occurred in front of a record crowd of 1,417.
FC Tucson (9-10-6, 33 points) is clinging to sixth place, the last playoff spot in the USL League One, with only three matches remaining, including Saturday’s match against visiting South Georgia Tormenta FC (8-12-6, 30 points) at 7 p.m.
“It’s disappointing,” FC Tucson coach Jon Pearlman said of Wednesday’s loss. “We still control our own destiny, which is good, but it’s certainly a bit of a set back. The good news is we don’t have time to dwell on it. We have to get back out there on Saturday and perform.”
FC Tucson was in for a tough time against North Carolina FC — which has already been eliminated from playoff contention — after it was down a man at the 28-minute mark. Captain Dakota Barnathan received the red-card ejection after a potentially dangerous challenge.
“Getting the red card here, in the particular position we got in was the worst possible scenario we could’ve got in,” Pearlman said. “But the truth is the match was there to be won, not even a draw. We had four or five breakaways. We could’ve easily drawn that match or won it.
“Even though we were at 10 (players), I wasn’t just gonna simply concede attacking players.”
North Carolina’s first goal of the night came off of a header from Peter Pearson just before the 58-minute mark.
Three minutes later, North Carolina FC was in scoring position again via a penalty kick. Selmir Miscic was able to knock in the shot at the 60-minute mark.
FC Tucson had plenty of opportunities to score, especially in the final 15 minutes of the match. They outshot their opponents 15-13, with five shots on target compared to North Carolina FC’s four.
With just three matches remaining, FC Tucson has very little room for error. Despite knowing this, Pearlman and his team are more than confident they will finish the season with a playoff seed.
“We’re still in position where we need to be,” Pearlman said. “We walk into Saturday in the playoffs, so we’re looking to walk out of Saturday still in the playoffs.”
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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 for the Cougars.