TRI-CITIES, WA – Tri-Cities Alliance FC officially kicked off their quest for an Evergreen Premier League of Washington (EPLWA) trophy on Saturday, welcoming Chiquilladas FC of Yakima to Tri-Cities for a preseason friendly. Hosted by Columbia Basin College, TCAFC fell to the visitors, 2-3, in front of an estimated 200 fans.

The preseason friendly served as a rematch of the 2017 Copa America final, won by TCAFC with via a 3-1 score. However, Chiquilladas FC came ready for revenge in what proved to be a very entertaining match for fans!

Marcos Medina looks to cross the ball into the box in the first half of Saturday’s friendly.

TCAFC started the game off aggressively – though it led to several offsides calls against them. Chiquilladas FC’s Ceveriano Garcia struck for the visitors with a goal in the 24th minute. A beautiful set piece header by Hector Valdovinos in the 36th minute put the visitors up two goals and they carried that lead into halftime.

“This is something we struggled last year as well,” JD Loveless, the team’s Business Manager, stated. “We have a knack for getting an early hole. But these guys never quit. They always fight back. The match is never over for them.”

And, just like last year, the Lions fought back. Coming out of halftime with more disciplined offense and aggressive defense, TCAFC was able to equalize with two goals in a span of five minutes, scored by Diego Guiza and Vicente Flores.

“That’s what you get with Alliance. They never stop working,” head coach AB Moreno explained. “They proved it today when they were down 2 goals and kept pushing forward.”

Diego Guiza scores in the second half to draw TCAFC within one.

Tied 2-2, the match took on a renewed intensity as both teams were determined to take home the win. Ultimately, it was Lupe Rodriguez of Chiquilladas FC what scored the match winner in the closing moments and claimed the 2-3 victory for the out-of-towners.

Coach Moreno shared his post-match insight after the defeat.

“Yeah, it was a good game,” he said. “The boys did an amazing job. I had decided prior to the match that we were going to use a lot of subs because I wanted to see everyone play, so it was hard to find a rhythm out there. But they played well. We will learn from the mistakes that cost us this match. We have a whole month to get ready for the EPLWA and this will help us get ready.”

The team’s Operations Manager, Zachary Sansom addressed his reasoning for scheduling such a tough first match.

Vicente Flores celebrates after drawing the team level with Chiquilladas FC.

“I have heard people question why we booked such a tough team for our first match,” he explained. “Some people said there was no benefit. A win meant nothing. A loss looked bad. Here’s the deal: Chiquilladas FC is not just some club team – they are the BEST club team in Yakima. They have won their league something like 8 or 9 times. These guys know how to play the game. Our goal was to get excellent competition for our players and a fun matchup for the fans. We accomplished that. We love playing Chiquilladas FC and we’ll continue to play them. TCAFC and Chiquilladas FC make each other better – and that’s what the preseason is about!”

Tri-Cities Alliance FC will take the pitch again this Sunday (April 15th) against Kirkland FC of the Western Washington Premier League. That match will kick off at 5pm at Columbia Basin College.

All photos are courtesy of Florentino Gutierrez. Check out more amazing photos from Saturdays match by clicking here!