While American football fans bemoan the loss of the US Men’s National Team in last night’s World Cup qualifying match, Phoenix Rising FC has given Arizona fans something to cheer for.
The club announced today that it acquired FC Tucson, a PDL squad formerly coached by PRFC Assistant Coach Rick Schantz. FC Tucson began play in the PDL in 2011, and has earned four divisional titles and reached the Western Conference finals three times. FC Tucson has a combined 82-28-19 record in league play, and is 87-50-27 overall including friendlies with MLS and other professional teams.
FC Tucson last played Phoenix Rising in a pre-season friendly on April 28, 2017. The split squad match was shared with the University of Arizona club soccer team. The FC Tucson half ended in a draw.
Phoenix Rising released the following statement from FC Tucson General Manager, Jon Pearlman (@soccerrabbi):
“When I co-founded FC Tucson with my managing partners, our goal was to help give players in the state a road map toward playing soccer at the highest levels. Our original mission fits perfectly with what we’re doing with Phoenix Rising and this partnership is going to raise the level of soccer in Arizona for years to come.”
Twitter reaction was mostly positive. Matthew Wall, a former intern with FC Tucson, posted, “I’m ecstatic to support both teams. Excited to see youth soccer elevate in the state.” FC Tucson has an existing partnership with the Arizona Youth Soccer Association. Communications Director for the AYSA, Garrett Cleverly called the acquisition “… positive soccer news …” although FC Tucson supporters group “The Cactus Pricks” posted that they are “feeling disappointed” about the move.
The Premier Development League (PDL) is a 72 team league focused on player development, and falls under the United Soccer League (USL) umbrella. Players are drawn mostly from NCAA college soccer and NAIA college soccer players who want to play during their summer break. The PDL is not considered to be a professional league, which allows for players to maintain their collegiate amateur eligibility.