FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz is an assistant principal at Imago Dei Middle School, but you gotta think there's some math teacher in his background.
He knows the numbers. He knows that three points against the first-place Ventura County Fusion tonight will pull second-place Tucson closer to the top and separate it from those below.
For the second time in two weeks, the top two soccer clubs in the Southwest Division of the USL Premier Development League will face off. This time, it's at Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5 at 7 p.m.
Schantz's team cannot mathematically take the lead with a win tonight, but it could put its fate in its own hands. The Fusion has 29 points from 12 matches and FC Tucson has 24 from 11. A win would pull Tucson within two points with a match in hand, and it would own the head-to-head tiebreaker with a victory and a draw in the two contests between the teams.
"Is this important? Being in first place would be huge," Schantz said. "I don't think these guys have any intentions of just making the playoffs. This group wants to win the division."
A loss or draw tonight would severely dent Tucson's division title hopes and force it to concentrate on second and the final playoff spot.
"Thirty points will get it done," Schantz said of reaching the playoffs. "We're six points away from 30. … Out of 15 (possible) points, we have to get six."
Three points tonight would do wonders, but will take one of FC Tucson's best performances of the season.
"This team (Ventura County), I don't want to go so far as the Yankees coming in, but they are definitely the powerhouse of the PDL right now," Schantz said. "I believe they've probably got four or five of the best guys in the entire country on their roster."
• What: Ventura County at Fusion at FC Tucson
• Where: Kino Sports Complex, North Field No. 5
• When: 7 p.m.
• TV: 990-AM (Spanish)