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FC Tucson set to open 3rd pro season

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TUCSON (KVOA) -- It's Week 4 of the 3rd USL League One season but Week 1 for FC Tucson.

The Men in Black open the 2021 campaign on Saturday in Stateboro, Georgia against South Georgia Tormenta FC. Kickoff on ESPN+ is 4 p.m. Tucson time.

Tormenta has played twice this season already, losing to Fort Lauderdale CF and Union Omaha.

The 12-team league is back to a full 28-match schedule this season after only playing 16 matches in 2020 due to COVID-19.

FC Tucson (6-6-4, 22 points) finished in 6th place last season after an 8th placement (8-9-11, 33 points) in 2019.

Wallis Lapsley brings USL Championship experience to FC Tucson's back end

Notable returners for this season include defender Samuel Biek, midfielders Charlie Dennis and Manuel Ferriol and forward Shak Adams. Adams scored four goals and had two assists in 2021 but missed the final part of the season due to injury.

Biek was the team's defensive MVP.

Jordan Pena, who arrived late last season on a loan from Real Monarchs, will also be back in the midfield.

Among the players who have moved up to USL Championship include goalkeeper Carlos Merancio (Hartford) and Niall Logue (El Paso).

The club will see former forward Azaad Liadi this weekend as he signed with Tormenta this off-season. Josh Coan who scored four goals last season for FCT is set to play with the USL1's newest club North Carolina FC.

Newcomers include veteran defender Dakota Barnathan, who has four seasons of experience at USL Championship with Sporting KC II, Ottawa Fury and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.

Defender Noah Franke also played in Pittsburgh in 2019 but did not play last season.

New midfielder Deri Corfe spent last season at the USL Championship level with New York Red Bulls II. He scored a pair of goals.

Goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley also appeared last season for Red Bulls II. He allowed 19 goals in 11 matches.

Barnathan, Franke, Corfe and Lapsley are all MLS drafted players.

FC Tucson Director of Soccer Operations Jon Pearlman looks on during a 2021 pre-season training session at Kino North Stadium

FC Tucson’s home opener against Forward Madison FC is scheduled for Saturday, May 8, becoming the first FC Tucson regular season live match open to fans since October 4, 2019.

The Men in Black will then go on a three-game road trip against Fort Lauderdale CF, Toronto FC II and North Carolina FC before returning home June 5. FC Tucson’s 28-game regular-season slate will end at home against Richmond Kickers on Saturday, October 30.

The top six teams in the regular season will advance to the 2021 League One Playoffs.

Copyright 2021 News 4 Tucson. All rights reserved.

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David Kelly

David Kelly is the weekend sports anchor at KVOA in Tucson. He is a 28-year veteran of the sports broadcast business.

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