By Joe Vizzini/NPSL.com
On Saturday, February 22nd, Temecula FC and FC Arizona faced off for the first time in the
2020 season. It proved to be a big test to start the season.
A strong early start to the season would be important for both teams. Temecula FC were coming
off of a sixth place finish last year in the Southwest Conference. Their first match against a
strong FC Arizona team would be a test for the squad.
FC Arizona gained new leadership in the offseason, Jamie Landreman as owner and Dave
Rogers as technical director and head coach. The hope is that these additions would improve
their standings from last year’s second place finish. Rogers has had over 500 appearances in his
professional career which spanned 20+ years. Rogers started his coaching career in 2013 when
he was appointed to lead the Liverpool International Academy. With his combined experience
as a professional player and coach, Arizona hopes to take the top of the standings this year.
In a physical and competitive back and forth game, Temecula FC struck first. Late in the first
half, Tarek Nazzal beat the keeper on a thirty-five yard free kick.
“Tarek was our top goalscorer last season, so it’s no surprise when he hits the back of the net
from a free kick,” said Temecula FC head coach Austin Levins after the game. “He’s got a great
strike on the ball, as he proved there.”
The match opened up after the first goal. It became even more physical and more competitive.
The players tried to keep the play clean even as the rain came down.
The Temecula lead didn’t last long. Forty seconds after the start of the second half, FC Arizona
struck back with a goal, tying the game 1-1. After an error in the Arizona back line, Temecula’s
Cody Shelton scored, beating the Arizona goalkeeper in the top left corner. In the 77th minute,
Arizona’s Ryan Flood sent a free kick into the box and after a fumble from the keeper, David
Alton struck back, tying the game for a second time.
After two halves of back-and-forth soccer, with two yellow cards, the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
“Two good teams, that were battling each other from the first whistle, two teams that were
showing a lot of passion and character,” Rogers said. “I am proud of the boys because they came
“I’m pleased with the performance,” Levins said. “We had a mixed bag in the preseason in
terms of the performance.”
Although the Temecula goalkeeper had two errors that led to goals, Levins didn’t seem too
“Probably the only two mistakes he made in the whole game so that’s the disappointment, but
that’s football, that’s what it’s about, you know,” Levins said. “Picking yourself up and going
back at it next week.”
Both coaches noted after the game there were simple mistakes that kept them from leaving the
stadium with a win.
“We like to press hard, we like to work hard, we’ve a good work ethic, but if you switch off for
that split second you’ll get punished, and that’s what we did today,” Rogers said.
“It’s a point at home, we’re happy with that,” Levins said. “There’s room for improvement, we’ll
be working on that during the week with the guys in training.”
Temecula FC plays next in Las Vegas on Sunday, March 1st against a new team in the league,
the Las Vegas Legends. The Legends have a storied history as a team, originally competing in
the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL). During their four years in the MASL, they
accumulated 68 wins and 26 losses and made the playoffs all four years and won four
consecutive divisional championships.
FC Arizona’s next match will be at home on Saturday, February 29th against ASC San Diego.
Since ASC San Diego finished just one spot below Arizona in the standings last year, it will
definitely be a game to watch.
Photo Credit: Doug Yoder of Bydesign Images