There was no relaxation on Saturday night at Kino North Stadium.
After a first half that saw the teams tied at one apiece, the Fusion jumped out to an early second half lead and looked to secure a spot in the playoffs themselves. It wasn’t until the 77th minute that FC Tucson opened the scoring flood gates and hammered the Fusion into submission with four unanswered goals including a hat trick from Afonso Pinhiero.
“When you go through moments like this, something you’ve been striving for, you start to think about your family, the ones who love you and the ones that are back home,” Pinheiro said as he shed a tear. “It’s been really hard to be away from home and I know all my family’s been at home watching the games.”
The PDL is the Premier Development League for players under 23 years old and is divided into four conferences and 10 divisions divided geographically. Of the 49 teams in the league, 22 of those advanced to the playoffs including seven teams from the four divisions in the Western Conference.
FC Tucson and the Charlotte Eagles out of the South Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference are the only teams with a first-round bye while six teams from each conference will battle for a semifinal berth. The smaller Southern and Central Conferences only send four teams to the postseason with the Conference champions taking on the Eastern and Western Conference champions respectively.
The Men in Black will face the winner of the Calgary Foothills and Seattle Sounders U23. The two teams finished the season as the No. 1 and 2 teams in the Northwest Division after Calgary bested Seattle 3-2 on Sunday. Thursday’s match between the teams will be the third consecutive match with Calgary winning the previous two meetings.
The playoffs are nothing new for FC Tucson as they have finished atop their division for three consecutive seasons. Unfortunately, they have yet to win a conference championship losing in 2014 to the Kitsap Pumas and last year to the aforementioned Seattle U23 squad.
Tickets for Friday’s games can be obtained by calling (520) 334-115, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or online here.