Sporting AZ FC

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Sporting AZ FC
Full nameSporting Arizona Football Club
StadiumSouth Mountain Community College
Phoenix, Arizona
ChairmanTim Marchisotto
ManagerTom Hurdle
WebsiteClub website

Sporting AZ FC is an American soccer team based in Phoenix, AZ. Founded in 1989, the team was a member of several professional and semi-pro leagues. They are now a member of the Southwest Conference of the United Premier Soccer League.


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. Hearts 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 2003–2009, 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.

In 2016, the Sahuaros were renamed Sporting AZ FC. They joined the UPSL on January 8, 2017 and were placed in the Arizona Conference along with the Arizona Scorpions FC, El Salto United FC & Super Inter AZ.[4] Sporting AZ FC won the Arizona Conference in their 1st season in the UPSL moving on to the UPSL National Quarterfinals. The team was led by Head Coach Tim Marchisotto and standout goalkeeper Jake Rybicki. 2018 saw the team raise the bar again with Marchisotto moving into the General Manager role and the addition of Aidan Davison as Head Coach. The duo achieved success with the team. Sporting AZ won the new Southwest Conference of the UPSL and went to the UPSL Championship game. In addition, Sporting went to the 3rd round of the prestigious US Open Cup. Sporting beat in state rivals FC Arizona of the NPSL and professional team Phoenix Rising FC of the USL. Sporting AZ FC has proven to be one of the best amateur teams in the country. 2019 saw the departure of Aidan Davison and the hiring of Lance Thompson. Thompson has been a long time college coach and most recently the assistant coach for the Turks and Caicos National team.


Current roster[edit]

As of May 4, 2019
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 United States GK Tyler Pavlet
3 United States MF Niko Shumov
4 United States DF Chris Green
7 United States MF Josh Drack
9 United States DF Brian Green
12 United States MF Mark Sanchez
13 United States DF Jon Guse
14 United States DF David Paul
19 Mexico MF José Ramos
23 United States FW Chris Ramsell
No. Position Player
United States MF Alejandro Aguilar
United States MF Anthony Archuleta
United States FW Danny Baca
United States MF Robby Baca
United States MF Tony Cascio
United States DF Brandon Johnson
United States MF Paul LaMarca
United States MF Kenny McAvoy
Uruguay MF Roberto Ramos
United States GK Andrew Weber

Notable former players[edit]

  • Honduras Roger Espinoza (2013 – Premier League – Wigan Athletic)[5] (2008 SuperDraft – MLS 11th pick in the 1st round – Kansas City Wizards) [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 Justin Meram[9]
  • United States Scott Maxwell (1991/92 Indoor Season – acquired from SISL's Amarillo Challengers)
  • United States Randy Soderman


Outdoor team[edit]

Year Division League Reg. Season Playoffs Open Cup
Phoenix Hearts
1990 SISL 3rd, Western Quarter-finals Did not enter
1991 SISL 5th, Southwest Did not qualify Did not enter
Arizona Cotton
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
Arizona Phoenix
1996 4 USISL Premier League 3rd, Western Southern Division Semi-finals Did not qualify
Arizona Sahuaros
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 Quarter-finals 2nd round
1999 3 USL D-3 Pro League 3rd, Western Conference Semi-finals 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 Semi-finals Did not qualify
2002 3 USL D-3 Pro League 3rd, Western 1st round Did not qualify
2003 4 MPSL 3rd Champions 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[10]
2nd Round – Sahuaros (USASA) vs Virginia Beach Mariners (USL-D1) 0–1 [11]
2007 USASA n/a n/a Did not qualify
2008 4 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[12]
2010 USASA n/a n/a 1st round – Sahuaros (NPSL) vs Ventura County Fusion (USL-PDL) 1–1 regulation 4–2 PKs[13]
2nd Round – Austin Aztex (USSF-D2) vs Sahuaros (NPSL) 3–1 [14]
2011 On Hiatus
2012 USASA n/a n/a Did not qualify
2013 USASA n/a n/a Did not qualify
2014 USASA n/a n/a Did not qualify
2015 USASA n/a n/a Did not qualify
2016 USASA n/a n/a Did not qualify
Sporting AZ FC
2017 (Spring) UPSL 1st, Arizona Conference Quarter-finals Did not qualify
2018 (Spring) UPSL 1st, Southwest Conference Championship Final 1st round – Sporting AZ FC (UPSL) vs FC Arizona (NPSL) 1–0[15]
2nd Round – Sporting AZ FC (UPSL) vs Phoenix Rising FC (USL) 1–1 regulation 5–4 PKs [16]
3rd Round – Fresno FC (USL) vs Sporting AZ FC (UPSL) 2–1 in overtime.

Indoor team[edit]

Year League Reg. Season Playoffs
Phoenix Hearts
1989/90 SISL Indoor 1st, Cactus Championship Final
1990/91 SISL Indoor 4th, Southwest Quarter-finals
1991/92 USISL Indoor 4th, Southwest Did not qualify
Arizona Cotton
1992/93 USISL Indoor 2nd, Southwest Championship Final


  • MPSL Champions 2003
  • USL D-3 Pro League West Division Champions 1998
  • SISL Cactus Division Champions 1989/90 (Indoor)
  • UPSL Arizona Conference Champions 2017 (Spring Season)
  • UPSL Southwest Conference Champions 2018 (Spring Season)

Hall of Fame[edit]

Head coaches/Assistant coaches[edit]


  1. ^ The Year in American Soccer – 1990
  2. ^ The Year in American Soccer – 1993
  3. ^ The Year in American Soccer – 1998
  4. ^ "United Premier Soccer League Welcomes Sporting AZ Football Club as Expansion Team for 2017". January 8, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
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External links[edit]