By FC Arizona
On a wonderfully temperate night in Phoenix, Arizona for an NPSL match, home side FC Arizona took a 2-0 victory over Southwest Conference challenger Temecula FC. Both teams began the first half with crisp play taking advantage of the ball’s pace on turf. The central midfielders were animated, linking passes between their forward and defense as they tried to discover their opponents’ vulnerabilities. FC Arizona played with a confidence repeated from their home opener a week earlier vs. ASC San Diego.
Temecula kept their shape admirably though they didn’t press often which allowed FC Arizona to pass without concern. FC Arizona’s attack picked up considerably with three real chances within the first fifteen minutes. FC Arizona finally broke through in the 17th minute when Chris Ramsell scored after a series of pretty passes leading to a shot bouncing away from the keeper right to the midfielder for the easy finish. Play remained in favor of FC Arizona who nearly struck again in the 24th where after a flurry, the ball lay nearly on the end line for what seemed an eternity before a Temecula defender was able to clear it. Both teams became a little chippy when contesting for 50/50 balls. FC Arizona cracked the code again in the 37th, when Tobenna (Toby) Uzo, who was a threat the entire evening, knocked home a tremendous shot following a stellar cross from Jesse Maldonaldo. The half came shortly after.
Halftime brought an emotional but joyous moment when FC Arizona announced that David Paul, midfielder and captain, had played his final half as a player, retiring to become a member of the coaching staff. Owner Jaime Landreman presented Paul with a team signed jersey and the team carried him off on their shoulders in a terrific show of affection for their former captain.
The second half was much of the same as the first with FC Arizona dominating the majority of play. Maldonaldo continued to press the attack taking several shots, one a clear opportunity on a through ball but played wide right. With energy running low for Temecula, Coach Noel Castillo of FC Arizona wisely used several substitutions to keep his side fresh and energetic. In the 82nd minute, a third goal was nearly discovered when a ball was placed across the ground in front of the Temecula goal mouth and a defender nearly misplayed it into an own goal.
The best opportunity of the night for Temecula FC occurred in the 86th minute when a forward was able to get around the FC Arizona keeper but the ball played to the outside post. While he was able to run it down and play it across the box, there was no one available to finish what would have been an empty netter. The referee blew the whistle with about three minutes of stoppage time and the match concluded with FC Arizona winning 2-0.
Photo Credit: Arianna Grainey