Arizona Sahuaros

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Arizona Sahuaros
Full name Arizona Sahuaros
Nickname(s) Sahuaros
Founded 1989
Stadium Grand Canyon University Soccer Complex
Phoenix, Arizona
Ground Capacity 10,000
Chairman Petar Draksin
Manager Orhan Kraja
League National Premier Soccer League
2011 Expansion

Arizona Sahuaros is an American soccer team based in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. Founded in 1989, the team is member of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), a national amateur league at the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid. The team is currently on hiatus from the NPSL due to a lack of teams in the Southwest Division, but is due to return to NPSL competition in 2011.

The team plays its home games at the soccer complex on the campus of Grand Canyon University. The team's colors are gold and navy blue.


The club originally started in 1989 as the Phoenix Hearts in the original indoor SISL league. They made an immediate impact on the league when they went to the 1989-1990 SISL indoor championship before falling to the Addison Arrows. Heat coach Peter Baralić was named Coach of the Year.[1] They changed their name to the Arizona Cotton in 1992 and played both indoor and outdoor for one more year in the USISL, before joining the amateur USISL Premier League in 1995. In 1992, they again went to the final of the USISL Indoor season, losing to the Atlanta Magic. The Arizona coach, Zelimar Antonievic, was named Coach of the Year.[2] In 1996, the team became the Arizona Phoenix. In 1997, they changed their name again, this time to Arizona Sahuaros, and moved up to the USISL D-3 Pro League. In 1998, the Sahuaros front office named 3 player coaches to take over the Sahuaros Professional franchise, Mate Kozul (Head Coach), Edson Rico and Roger Salazar (Assistant coaches). With their connections in the Valley they assembled a strong team of former HS Gatorade Players of the Year, College All Americans and National JUCO Champions from Yavapai College. That year the Sahuaros were crowned the Western Division Champions and coach Matt Kozul was named USISL Coach of the Year.[3] After the 2002 season, the Sahuaros left the USL D-3 Pro League and helped form the new Men's Premier Soccer League, finishing the season as champions in the first year. The Sahuaros competed in the NPSL until 2004, after which the club chose to play in USASA affiliated leagues. They re-joined the NPSL in 2008. In 2000-2009, the Sahuaros hired Petar Draksin as their head coach, he made a significant contribution to the Sahuaros franchise by bringing in many talented players and winning many significant games in the different leagues.


Current roster[edit]

As of 20 May 2012 [4]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
5 United States DF Nick Sykes
8 United States DF Mitch Garcia
9 United States DF Brian Green
10 United States DF Chris Green
24 Somalia MF Yasin Ahmed
13 United States FW Kyle Ciliento
14 United States FW Pat Perkins
No. Position Player
15 United States DF Mike Duhaney
23 United States MF Skelly Keller
United States MF Kyle Dubay
United States MF Phillipe Garre
United States MF Mike Munoz
United States FW Brian Thames
United States GK Kyle Pearsall

Notable former players[edit]

  • Honduras Roger Espinoza (2013 - Premier League - Wigan Athletic) [5] (2008 Super Draft - MLS 11th pick in the 1st round - Kansas City) [6]
  • United States Allen Chapman (Professional referee working in MLS since 2012) [7]
  • United States Nick DeLeon (2012 Super Draft - MLS 7th pick in the 1st round - DC United) [8]
  • United States Scott Maxwell (1991/92 Indoor Season - acquired from SISL's Amarillo Challengers)


Outdoor team[edit]

Year Division League Reg. Season Playoffs Open Cup
1990 SISL 3rd, Western Quarterfinals Did not enter
1991 SISL 5th, Southwest Did not qualify Did not enter
1992 USISL 4th, Southwest Did not qualify Did not enter
1993 USISL 7th, Southwest Did not qualify Did not enter
1994 3 USISL 5th, Southwest Did not qualify Did not enter
1995 4 USISL Premier League 6th, Western Did not qualify Did not qualify
1996 4 USISL Premier League 3rd, Western Southern Division Semifinals Did not qualify
1997 3 USISL D-3 Pro League 6th, West Did not qualify Did not qualify
1998 3 USISL D-3 Pro League 1st, Western Division Champions Quarterfinals 2nd Round
1999 3 USL D-3 Pro League 3rd, Western Conference Semifinals 2nd Round
2000 3 USL D-3 Pro League 6th, Western Did not qualify Did not qualify
2001 3 USL D-3 Pro League 4th, Western Conference Semifinals Did not qualify
2002 3 USL D-3 Pro League 3rd, Western 1st Round Did not qualify
2003 4 MPSL 3rd Champion Did not qualify
2004 4 MPSL 3rd Runner-Up Did not qualify
2005 on hiatus
2006 USASA n/a n/a 1st Round - Sahuaros (USASA) vs BYU Cougars (USL-PDL) 5-1 [9] 2nd Round - Sahuaros (USASA) vs Virginia Beach Mariners (USL-D1) 0-1 [10]
2007 USASA n/a n/a Did not qualify
2008 NPSL 2nd, Southwest Did not qualify 1st Round
2009 USASA n/a n/a 1st Round - El Paso Patriots (USL-PDL) vs Sahuaros (USASA) 2-1 [11]
2010 USASA n/a n/a 1st Round - Sahuaros (NPSL) vs Ventura County Fusion (USL-PDL) 1-1 regulation 4-2 PKs [12] 2nd Round - Austin Aztex (USSF-D2) vs Sahuaros (NPSL) 3-1 [13]
2011 NPSL on hiatus

Indoor team[edit]

Year Division League Reg. Season Playoffs Open Cup
1989/90 N/A SISL Indoor 1st, Cactus Final N/A
1990/91 N/A SISL Indoor 4th, Southwest Quarterfinals N/A
1991/92 N/A USISL Indoor 4th, Southwest Did not qualify N/A
1992/93 N/A USISL Indoor 2nd, Southwest Final N/A


  • MPSL Champions 2003
  • USL D-3 Pro League West Division Champions 1998
  • SISL Cactus Division Champions 1989/90 (Indoor)

Hall of Fame[edit]

Head coaches/Assistant coaches[edit]


The Sahuaros are currently securing funds to build one of the first soccer-specific stadiums in the USASA. It would seat 7,500 spectators and come complete with luxury boxes, restaurants, training facilities, and office headquarters for the team.


External links[edit]