FC Tucson might only be playing for third place, but the club's passion and energy level made it feel like the division title was on the line.
L.A. Misioneros FC, the team FC Tucson is chasing for third, just brought the passion - the kind of passion that resulted in a sending off and four yellow cards.
When the 90 minutes came to an end, FC Tucson had a 4-0 victory before a record 1,022 supporters at Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5 on Saturday night.
The win raised FC Tucson's point total to 19 and pulled it within one point of L.A. Misioneros FC for third place in the USL Premier Development League's Southwest Division.
FC Tucson has one league match remaining; L.A has two left.
"We're out of the (playoff) race for the season, so it's all about heart and dedication," said FC Tucson forward Ricardo Velazco, who scored a goal and was involved in two other scores.
"All these people that come out and watch us, we've got to give them a show."
The show started early, with a little help from the Misioneros. Velazco's corner kick in the 14th minute glanced off the head of L.A. forward Vincent Weijl and past goalkeeper Sheldon Steenhuis for an own goal.
Velazco and fellow forward Saeed Robinson gave Steenhuis and the Misioneros defense fits for most of the first 45 minutes. When the two weren't being fouled, they were forcing Steenhuis to come out of his goal numerous times.
The two combined with Gabe Silveira to create and secure a 2-0 lead just before halftime. Robinson tracked down a ball near the endline and looped it to Silveira on the other side of the goal. L.A. failed to close down Silveira and, with the extra time, the midfielder spotted Velazco charging into the middle of the box. The Casa Grande native struck the ball in stride and the ball punched the net in the 44th minute.
"I saw Gabe and he had the ball on the line, and I was waiting for him to pass it," said Velazco, who is tied with Silveira with a team-leading six goals in all competitions. "He held it a little bit and as soon as I saw the space open, I made the darting run. He played it through and that's all she wrote."
After getting two yellow cards in the first half, L.A. further compounded its problems when forward Kyrian Nwabueze was shown a red card after pushing defender Travis Campbell to the ground in the box.
Despite playing a man down, the Misioneros had more of the play in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
"In the second half, we made a tactical change and brought in an extra midfielder," FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz said. "That kind of negated what we expected (L.A.) to do. I thought all the guys that came in off the bench really did a great job."
But an opportunistic FC Tucson tallied again when Dakota Collins looped a long shot across the goalmouth and into the top right corner to make it 3-0 in the 58th minute.
A scintillating, right-footed volley by Max Orstil from a Velazco corner in the 67th minute capped the scoring.
The crowd set a home attendance mark for a USL PDL match; the previous high was 1,015 set June 8.
• Quicksilver of the Tucson Adult Soccer League defeated Alzano FC of the Tucson Women's Soccer League in the Chapman Tucson Champions League coed final before FC Tucson's match Saturday night. After the teams tied 2-2 at the end of regulation, Quicksilver won 3-1 on penalties.
• The FC Tucson youth academy team will travel to the L.A. area next week for matches against three top Southern California teams. The group of 20 to 24 players is scheduled to play Thursday, Friday and Saturday before returning for FC Tucson's final match of the season Saturday night.
• What: Yucaipa All-Stars at FC Tucson (non-league)
• When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
• Where: Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5