Ahead of its sixth Premier Development League campaign, FC Tucson will host the United Soccer League's Phoenix Rising FC in a preseason friendly. The PDL franchise will play Rising FC at 7:30 p.m. MST from Kino North Stadium on April 29.
Rising FC boasts a high-profile and talented roster, with stars Didier Drogba, Omar Bravo and Shaun Wright-Phillips leading the club in 2017.
“This is a great opportunity for younger players in college to have the opportunity to see what it takes to play at the professional level, while also letting us give a homecoming of sorts for Rick Schantz," FC Tucson Head Coach Jon Pearlman said.
Schantz, who joined Rising FC as an assistant coach ahead of the 2017 USL regular season, led FC Tucson to three PDL division titles (2014-16) and helped multiple players – including Real Salt Lake attacker Ricardo Velazco and New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long – progress to the professional level.
FC Tucson will compete in the Mountain Division in 2017, as well as participate in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The club will face off against the BYU Cougars to begin league play on May 5, while its Open Cup match against the Colorado Rush kicks off at 7:30 p.m. MST on May 10.
With the announcement of the friendly, FC Tucson becomes the latest PDL club to schedule a contest against a professional opponent. South Georgia Tormenta FC takes on the Charleston Battery on May 10, while the Cincinnati Dutch Lions will play FC Cincinnati in a match on July 16.
“We wanted to make sure we could keep our players match fit during an off week this early in the season,” Rising FC Head Coach Frank Yallop said. “FC Tucson has done a tremendous job to make sure youth soccer players in the area have a chance to watch high-level professional soccer in person and we look forward to being a part of that tradition.”