Fresno, CA — FC Tucson forward Ricardo Velazco had his defender beat. He had a great look at the net. And he even beat the Fresno goalkeeper with his quick right-footed shot. But the ball slammed into the crossbar and straight into the night sky.
It was that kind of night.
Despite numerous scoring chances for the club, FC Tucson dropped its third match of the season, 3-1, to division-leading Fresno Fuego. The loss keeps FC Tucson in fourth place, 13 points behind the Fuego, who remain in first.
"It's never been our problem going forward," said FC Tucson Head Coach Rick Schantz. "We're going to create opportunities but we didn't put them away. We hit a couple off the post and we didn't get around the keeper on a breakaway and it (was) just a little bit of bad luck."
FC Tucson came out of the match the better side, attacking well and smothering the Fresno attack. In the seventh minute, Stephan Posa sent a cross into the box for Isaac Ikyurav. The pass was just inches ahead of the streaking Ikyurav and the undirected ball rolled wide of the net. It would be the first of many just misses for FC Tucson.
The match remained scoreless until the 29th minute, when a turnover in midfield found its way to the feet of Fresno's Tyler Reinhart. From roughly 30 yards away, Reinhart smashed the ball at the net and placed it just over a jumping Michael D'Arrigo and under the crossbar for the match's first goal.
Moments later, in the 32nd minute, forward Paul Islas found himself 10 yards to the left of the net and with space to shoot. He wasted no time and blasted a shot past D'Arrigo to give the Fuego a 2-0 lead.
Gabe Silveira helped FC Tucson salvage the opening frame. In the 41st minute Ikyurav found Silveira in the box and Silveira headed the ball past the keeper to cut the lead to one heading into the half.
"We gave the ball away at midfield and the kid hit the shot of his life," said FC Tucson defender Eli Galbraith-Knapp. "It took the wind out of our sails and we never really rebounded from that. We did well to fight back and get the goal before halftime and that made all the difference in the second half. But we just didn't take advantage of our opportunities."
The offensive chances piled on in the second half, but the ball either hit the frame (which happened to Velazco twice in the 51st and 66th minutes), rolled just out of a reach from a potential scorer (a Silveira cross to Carlos Montes in the 60th minute just missed Montes' outstretched foot) or was just blocked by the Fresno goalkeeper (a Velazco header followed by a Dakota Collins shot in the 59th minute)
"I feel like it was just one of those nights," Collins said. "We had the chances, we hit the crossbar. We had a couple of good looks but nothing was falling for us."
FC Tucson went down a man in the 85th minute after captain Travis Campbell received a red card and then the Fuego's George Antognoli sealed the match with his 88th minute goal.
"I'm proud of the guys," Schantz said. "They fought hard, they moved the ball quickly and we played well. We play good soccer. Tonight we weren't just kicking it down the field and chasing it. Tucson should still be very proud of these guys."
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