By NATE MARTINEZ
FC Tucson (1-2-1) struggled heavily to get any kind of offense going for most of Saturday’s match with South Georgia Tormenta FC (2-1-1) at Kino North Stadium in the 2-0 loss.
“One team came to play with the intensity that’s required in this league and on a professional level and one team didn’t,” FC Tucson coach Jon Pearlman said. “Both goals were unforced errors on our part; completely avoidable.”
Physicality was not something that was lacking in the chippy match as 25 fouls were called, 13 going toward Tormenta FC and 12 to FC Tucson.
The disciplinary frustrations began early for FC Tucson as midfielder Charlie Machell received a yellow card five minutes into the match.
At the 29-minute mark, midfielder Louis Perez received a yellow card, his first of two on the night that would lead to an ejection.
“A player decides to give up a yellow card for dissent in the first half and doesn’t control himself and gets us a yellow card in the second half,” Pearlman said. “That puts us a man down, game over. Not good enough from us — discipline.”
As many fouls as there were called, quite a few were missed as well. These missed calls were noticed by players and fans alike, although forward Deri Corfe feels it is just a part of the game.
He said the coach always tells them, “You gotta play through the whistle. Sometimes the ref might be on your side, he might not be.”
“You just gotta keep playing. It’s part of the game at the end of the day,” Corfe said. “They don’t get calls, we don’t get calls.”
The shutout loss was just one of those nights where they just couldn’t get shots to land, according to Corfe.
“Sometimes you have (those) nights,” Corfe said. “At the end of the night, you get a couple of those shots go in for you, but it felt like we didn’t create enough. So in general, we didn’t really deserve to win, I think. They were better than us.”
Pearlman said FC Tucson’s offensive woes came directly from a lack of execution and capitalizing on chances.
“I believe in this team,” he said. “I know we’ve got dangerous players, but it’s execution in the final third, it’s taking our chances, players having the confidence to go get people they know they have the right match-ups.
“We talked about when those times were. We just keep zigging when we should zag.”
The Tormenta defense was suffocating for the FC Tucson offense, forcing them to spend the better part of the time on their side of the pitch and allowing no shots on target.
Despite the disappointing first half and seven shots attempted by Tormenta, FC Tucson defended the goal well enough to go into halftime with a 0-0 tie.
FC Tucson came out of its locker room with a little bit more life in them. That was until Tormenta FC’s Adrian Billhardt scored the game’s first goal at the 61st minute.
Things only continued to fall apart from there for FC Tucson as Perez was ejected from the pitch for receiving his second yellow card of the night, leaving FC Tucson with only 10 men on the pitch.
Then, at the 81-minute mark, Tormenta FC’s Barry Sherifi extended the lead to 2-0 by heading in a corner kick, solidifying FC Tucson’s first home loss and three points in the conference.
Though the loss was a rough one, Pearlman acknowledged that it is still early in the season and there are plenty of adjustments to be made.
“It’s early games,” Pearlman said. “It’s four games into our league season. The panic button’s not gonna be hit.”
FC Tucson lost the match, but there is some upside. FC Tucson’s 2021 Player of the Year defender Kaelon Fox made his regular season debut, subbing in for Daniel Bedoya at the 67-minute mark.
Fox has been unable to play until this game due to an injury. He played 30 minutes. Pearlman indicated Fox might start the next match.
FC Tucson will return to Kino North on May 7 to play North Carolina FC on Teacher Appreciation Night. The match is set to start at 7 p.m.