Arizona United Soccer Club is making comeback that will go down in Arizona soccer history. From finishing at the bottom of the pack during the soccer team's inaugural season last year as the Phoenix FC Wolves to changes in ownership and a complete turnaround of operations and players, the sophomore squad has proven that soccer in Arizona can be successful.
Here are 10 things you should know about soccer's underdog.
1. The franchise got a fresh start.
After a terrible first season, Arizona Soccer Marketing, the company that owned the Phoenix FC Wolves, decided to give up its rights to the team and cut its loses shortly before the 2014 season was scheduled to begin. Soon after, the USL PRO league announced that Arizona United Soccer Club, led by Kyle Eng, would take over the franchise. While the schedule remained the same, Eng renamed the team. And Arizona United SC was born.
2. The team has made a major comeback.
After nine games, Arizona United SC is currently ranked ninth in the USL PRO league standings with three wins, five loses, one draw. This is huge improvement over the Phoenix FC Wolves, who were at the bottom of the pack last season. Up next Arizona United will travel to play against fourth-ranked Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday, June 7, before heading back home to Peoria to face the Dayton Dutch Lions on Wednesday, June 11.
3. They also have made Arizona soccer history.
On Wednesday, May 28, Arizona United SC became the first team from Arizona to advance to the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup by defeating Oklahoma City Energy FC two to one. Since the modern era of the cup, which began in 1995, Arizona teams have been unable to make it past the third round in their previous 100 tries. Arizona United SC will host the LA Galaxy at Peoria Sports Complex in the fourth round on Wednesday, June 18.
4. Their home field is in Peoria.
Arizona United SC plays at the Peoria Sports Complex. The largest crowd in franchise history was 3,014 people.
5. They're the only Arizona team in the USL PRO league.
Arizona United SC is currently the only professional soccer team in the USL PRO league from Arizona. The USL PRO league is working on expanding westward as most of the teams in the league are on the east coast. The USL PRO league is considered one of the best leagues below Major League Soccer.
6. Their head coach played professionally in the MLS.
Head coach Michael Dellorusso has a long history as both a player and coach in world of soccer. During his senior season at the University of Maryland in 2005, he led his team to its first national championship since 1968. Dellorusso went on to play in the MLS for FC Dallas and for the Austin Aztex in the USL PRO before going back to his alma mater as an assistant coach.
7. A few of the players are Arizona natives.
A couple of the players on the roster are from Arizona or have played in Arizona in the past. Midfielder José Ramos is originally from Phoenix and played in nine matches for the Phoenix FC Wolves last season. Another Arizona native is Michael D'Arrigo who is originally from Tucson and played for FC Tucson in 2012 and 2013.
8. Three players are from other countries.
A few of the players on the team are from other countries and many have played internationally. Defender Scott Morrison is originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, and started his career there. Morrison is one of the few players who stayed on the team after the switch from Phoenix FC Wolves to Arizona United SC. Other international players include midfielder Widner Saint-Cyr from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and Tshuma Schillo from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
9. They have a young roster.
With the average age of the team being 23.5, the roster includes young talented players, many fresh from college and U.S. youth teams. The coaches have recruited many players from their alma maters, including some from the University of Maryland.
10. Many players have represented the U.S. on national teams.
Arizona United SC players Evan Newton, Jacole Turner, Bryan Gallego, Jalen Robinson, London Woodberry, Charles Renken, Matt Kassel, Benji Lopez, and Jonathan Top have represented the U.S. on the Youth National Team.