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SOCCER

Dreams of Brasil

By Jose Romero - Apr 27, 2016

PHOENIX -- Erick Mora and Ricardo Alvarez play a lot of soccer, and they hope to keep playing as long as they can and go as far as the sport will take them. 

The two former Phoenix College players, who attended the same high school in the city, reunited to form part of Los Tuzos, a seven-man futsal squad that is preparing for its big opportunity Saturday in downtown Phoenix. 

Tuzos will be one of a number of five-a-side soccer teams with players ages 18 to 25 playing on fast and shorter surfaces this weekend in the Neymar Jr. Five event, a nationwide tournament with a stop in Phoenix. The top two finishers from Phoenix move on to the U.S. finals, which will be played in Miami on June 11. 

The U.S. winner earns another all-expenses paid trip to Praia Grande, Brazil (Neymar's hometown) for the world finals, and the chance to win a trip to Spain to see Neymar play in an FC Barcelona game in style. 

The tournament started two weekends ago in Fresno, then moved on to Los Angeles. Other events will be played in Rochester, NY, San Diego, Chicago and Miami. 

"I've always watched Brazilian players," Alvarez said. "My favorite player is Ronaldinho. So I idolized him a lot. It'd be beautiful to go watch him play, what if he shows up?

"I was reading that Neymar had his top five players. That'd be cool to go watch," he added. 

Tuzos, the name, is borrowed from the Mexican club CF Pachuca, though Alvarez and Mora are Cruz Azul fans. They played high school soccer in the heart of Phoenix's predominantly Mexican west side, and their team reflects the demographics of communities west of the city that are heavily Mexican. 

"A lot of ball control, a lot of dribbling, skill," Mora said when asked to explain the type of soccer Tuzos will play Saturday. The game moves quickly with shots off boards and no goalkeepers, and the twist is that when a team scores a goal the other team loses a player until there are none left or the 10-minute game ends. 

Alvarez is tall, standing 6 feet, so he'll be the target man who will shoot and distribute from the top of the goal arc. 

"We have players that can dribble and then we have players who can center the ball and touch 1-2," Mora said. 

The game will be fast, with quick touches and passes up and down a short pitch. 

Tuzos, with players from Mexico and the U.S., has no idea what kind of teams they will face nor how many will play. But they hope their chemistry from years of playing together will help them advance. 

 

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