YAKIMA, WA – The Copa America tournament, hosted by SOZO Sports in Yakima, kicked off this weekend with Tri-Cities Alliance FC returning to action for the first time since losing in the final of the Copa Washington in Tukwila. TCAFC wasted little time showing there were no lingering effects from that lose.
The first of three Saturday games for TCAFC kicked off against a team named Olympia FC. Scoring early and often, Ezequiel “Zeke” Angeles netted a hat trick and keeper Israel Garcia recorded TCAFC’s first clean sheet as the team cruised to an emphatic 3-0 win.
The second game of the day featured more dramatics and a near superhero performance by TCAFC forward, Miguel “Speedy” Acevedo. TCAFC kicked off against Xolos FC and found themselves down 0-1 early after a Xolos FC free kick finds the net. With 11 minutes left in regulation, Xolos FC scored another goal for a 0-2 lead against TCAFC. Showing the same resolve and never-quit attitude this team is becoming known for, Speedy went to work. Scoring a hat trick with in 9 minutes of game time, Acevedo shoulders TCAFC to a surprise, come-from-behind 3-2 victory.
“Wow! Just, wow,” was all team’s Operations Manager, Zachary Sansom could say after the victory.
“It was great to see the team pull together when they were down,” JD Loveless, the team’s Business Manager said. “Speedy stepped up and played out of this world.”
Game 3 was provided more of the same fireworks. In a match against Jaguares FC, TCAFC’s youngest player, Gonzalo Frausto, scored early on only to see Jaguares FC answer right back within a minute of game time. Just before halftime, Jaguares FC convert a penalty kick to take a 1-2 lead into halftime. The two teams battled for most of the second half with neither giving in. The swagger of TCAFC finally broke through when Gonzalo scored his second goal of the match to equalize and, just 2 minutes later, Luis Solano put away the game winner off a corner kick. TCAFC finished the day with another 3-2 win thanks to late game heroics.
“This team is deep,” Head Coach, A.B. Moreno said. “We have guys that can come on at any point and provide that spark, that extra push that we need. We are never out of any match and we believe that.”
The Sunday morning semi-finals match saw TCAFC facing off against Mexico FC for a chance to play in the finals. TCAFC kicked off and appeared sluggish, perhaps showing the effects of the hard fought matches from the day before. Mexico FC capitalized on the slow play by TCAFC and scored in the 25th minute, taking an 0-1 lead. Head Coach A.B. Moreno gave an impassioned halftime speech and the team responded. Minutes after second half play commenced, Zeke Angeles – the hero of Game 1 – set up Frausto with a beautiful pass for a tap-in equalizer. Less than 10 minutes later, Ariel Gonzalez was awarded a free kick and hit a perfect curling strike that Ozzy Martinez headed in for the 2-1 lead. TCAFC’s defense, lead by Jordan Angeles and Bryan Vargas, held tough and TCAFC rode the 2-1 score to the final whistle.
Prior to kicking off the final match, TCAFC players wanted to give something back to the family, friends, and fans in attendance. The team’s three owners passed out free t-shirts emblazoned with the TCAFC logo to everyone in attendance. Afterwards, the team assembled for a photo with the players and fans in front of goal.
The final kicked off at 2pm and pitted TCAFC against Chiquilladas FC, one of Yakima’s best teams. Both teams held nothing back and battled for much of the first half, though neither team could manage a goal. Luis Solano decided to change that when he found the back of the net just before the halftime whistle, in the 44th minute. TCAFC took a 1-0 lead into the half. However, Chiquilladas FC wasn’t going away quietly and they equalized in the 66th minute. The back-and-forth continued until Solano added another goal in the 86th minute and Jaren Turner put the nail in the coffin with a 90th minute header. TCAFC took home the trophy with a 3-1 victory over Chiquilladas FC and an undefeated weekend.
“I’m just proud of these guys and everything they do,” General Manager and player, Ramiro De La Mora said after the tournament. “They never quit. No team has more heart than we do. None!”
“It’s amazing to see where we have come since that Bellingham game,” Zachary Sansom said. “The chemistry and trust this team has developed is fun to watch!”
The Washington State Adult Soccer Association provided an additional bonus to TCAFC for winning the Copa America tournament – entry into the SoccerFest Adult Tournament in July of 2018!