Arizona United has begun the season with three wins in three consecutive road matches, an improbably feat when you consider how difficult winning on the road is and that Arizona is just a second-year club in USL.
The scariest part of their unbeaten run to begin the season: they may not even be at their best.
Sitting and waiting in the wings, after serving a three-match suspension stemming from an incident at the end of last season, is Jose "Chiva" Cuevas.
"I’m itching to get back into the game," Cuevas said. "I’ve been working extra hard. It’s been a three-week preseason for me. Some of these guys call it a vacation, but no chance."
In an offseason filled with decorated veterans, Cuevas was one of the highest-rated coming into Arizona. In 2012 he was USL’s Rookie of the Year and the Man of the Match in the 2012 USL Championship game, leading Charleston Battery to a title.
During his entire Charleston Battery career, from 2012-2014 with a brief stint in the PDL, he appeared in 60 matches and tallied 14 goals and 15 assists.
"Jose’s a special player," said head coach Michael Dellorusso. "The way he plays fits out style very well and we look forward to seeing what he can bring."
Cuevas said Dellorruso’s style of play was a major reason he came out to Arizona. He likes that there is less direct play and more touch and passing in Dellorrusso’s system and he’s confident in the team’s ability to do damage at the end of the season.
"I’ve been around the USL for three years and I feel we have a championship team," Cuevas said.
Orange County Round 2
For the first time this season, Arizona United squares off against a team it has already matched up against: Orange County Blues FC.
In their last meeting, Arizona won 2-1 thanks to two goals from Dennis Chin and Robbie Derschang and phenomenal goaltending from Carl Woszczynski (he was named to the USL Team of the Week). The lone goal Arizona gave up was the result of a major defensive miscue. So, has Dellorusso been fighting complacency in his ranks going to a match against a team they’ve already beaten?
"I don’t think so," Dellorusso said. " You guys saw training today, they weren’t very complacent, which is good. … They not overlooking things, they’re not cocky. They know they have to get better, which is great."
Dating back to last season, Arizona United has now won seven consecutive matches in USL play. Their last loss in USL play was on August 9, 2014 against Los Angeles Galaxy II. … Arizona is also beginning a little shutout streak. The team hasn’t allowed a goal in 161 minutes. … Long Tan is also carrying a streak of his own. He’s notched a point in his last four USL matches, dating back to last year’s season finale. In that little run, he’s scored three goals and provided an assists. … There is still no news, officially or unofficially on the loan front.