On Saturday night the Valley’s newest sports team made their debut in front of nearly 3000 soccer fans in an inaugural match in Mesa. FC Arizona, an expansion team in the National Premier Soccer League hosted Real San Jose who last year switched leagues to the United Premier Soccer League. Home games are being played at John D Riggs Stadium at Mesa Community College but owner Scott Taylor says, “this is Arizona’s team”.
San Jose controlled the play for the first 10 minutes. The rest of the game belonged to the good guys as FC Arizona found their confidence on the pitch. Number 3 Ignacio “Nacho” Coba started the rout with a goal in the 14th minute. By halftime the score was 3 nil with two more goals from #7 Cesar Mexia.
The highlight of the game was the supporters section where newly formed supporters group, “The Rampants Supporters” kept things lively. For football fans the atmosphere at matches is the sweet spot. The songs, the cheers, the jeers and the camaraderie make supporters groups an important part of the game. For members of the Rampants, FC Arizona’s dedication to the local community is an important factor in their support. One member told me that he’d rather support a local team that is dedicated to the fans instead of a team that is focused only on MLS expansion. The Rampants came fully prepared with chants, drums, scarves, smoke and good old fashioned rowdiness. According to the group’s website: “The Rampants Supporters are the official supporters group of FC Arizona. We will be loud, we will chant, we will bang drums, we will pop smoke and we will not back down! Respect All, Fear None. Red Lions Roar!”
On the field the play was strong against the outmatched Real San Jose. The game ended at 5-0. FC Arizona owner Scott Taylor told AZSoccer after that game that “this is Arizona’s team” and that he’s looking forward to stepping up the competition next Saturday night when they open league play and host Orange County FC. OCFC is a fellow expansion team and is also playing their first match as an NPSL team. FC Arizona plays 9 games here in the valley this season.
Check out the AZSoccer Events Calendar for all the soccer games and events around Arizona.