Mike Fucito (left) celebrates after scoring against host Monterrey in a CONCACAF Champions League game on September 22, 2010. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN JOSE, California -- As the San Jose Earthquakes prepare for their CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) quarterfinal series against Toluca, they will lean on the one member of the team that has found prior success in the tournament: Mike Fucito.
The forward has scored five career goals in CCL career, all as a member of the Seattle Sounders. He tallied three times during the 2010-11 edition, including an away goal at eventual champion Monterrey and twice in the 2011-12 tournament. The 27-year old is hoping to make the same type of impact with his new club, the Earthquakes.
“It’s an opportunity I look forward to,” said Fucito. “It’s a great competition that allows you to see how you measure up against some of the best teams in the region.”
Fucito was injured for most of the 2013 MLS season and missed all four games of the CCL’s group stage while recuperating from a broken leg. After working through an offseason recovery period, he entered San Jose’s preseason camp healthy and motivated.
“I feel good and I feel sharp,” stated Fucito. “The thing for me is keeping myself on the field and giving myself the opportunity to make an impact. So far, so good.”
The former Harvard University standout had an excellent college career, scoring 32 goals and tallying 24 assists in four years with the Crimson, and was drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft by Seattle.
As a professional, Fucito has enjoyed limited success in league play with four different teams, but holds impressive CCL credentials. His five goals outdistance teammate Chris Wondolowski’s three, and of the Earthquakes, he is the only player to have scored on Mexican soil.
One thing is clear: Fucito knows just how difficult it can be for MLS teams to play on the road in the region.
“It’s definitely a unique experience,” he explained. “You can’t really grasp it until you are down there in the thick of it. You get to see what passion is like down there. It is getting better here, but it is a different animal down there.”
Facing Toluca in Mexico will be a tough test for the Earthquakes, and Fucito knows that getting a good start in the two-game quarterfinal is paramount to San Jose’s chance of advancing in the tournament. The Quakes host the first game of the series on March 11 at Buck Shaw Stadium with a chance to create some distance between themselves and the Red Devils.
“It’s pretty cool to play in those atmospheres because they’re so crazy about soccer,” expressed Fucito, “but we want to take care of business at home because playing down there can be intimidating,”
Fit and healthy, with a nose for goal in the CCL, Fucito will be ready for the challenge.