Phoenix FC heads east this weekend for back-to-back games beginning Friday night when they take on the Richmond Kickers at City Stadium (7:00pm EST), and Saturday versus the Wilmington Hammerheads at Legion Stadium (7:30pm EST). This will be the first time that the Wolves face the Kickers in the USL PRO regular season, and it will be the team’s second match against the Hammerheads. Phoenix FC defeated Wilmington 3-1 on April 28 in Tempe.
Former Scottish Premier League standout Darren Mackie made his first start of the season for the Wolves last week in a draw against the Charlotte Eagles. Phoenix FC earned one point in the regular season standings and Mackie, who played all 90 minutes, made an impact right away with a run and shot on goal in the first minute of the match. Mackie is 100 percent after suffering a groin injury in training camp, and he is expected to start both games of this road trip.
Phoenix FC midfielder Scott Morrison has been on a tear lately, and he leads or is tied for the lead in games played, minutes played, goals and assists for the Wolves. Last week against Charlotte, Morrison celebrated his 29th birthday by scoring on a brilliant free kick in the 17th minute, then assisted teammate Donny Toia for Toia’s curling 25-yard shot into the far corner of the goal in the 38th minute.
The Richmond Kickers ended their run at the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night of this week when it lost to D.C. United 4-2 on penalties. The two teams finished tied at 0-0 after 120 minutes of regulation and overtime, and United goalkeeper Joe Willis made two crucial saves while D.C. converted all four of their penalties to advance to the fourth round.
Richmond currently owns the third place spot in the USL PRO regular season standings. Its 20 goals on the season are second in the league, and the team is tied for the lead in goals allowed, having given up a paltry 7 goals in 8 games. Richmond’s offense is led by midfielder Joseph Ngwenya, who leads the team with 13 points on 6 goals and 1 assist. Forwards Michael Seaton and Casey Townsend each have a pair of goals this season for the Kickers.
The Wilmington Hammerheads traveled to Tempe on April 28 to face the Wolves, with Diego Faria and Netinho netting goals for the home side and an own goal by Wilmington Hammerheads defender Uriah Bentick giving the Wolves a 3-1 win at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. Wilmington is 3-4 since the first meeting, which includes a win against the Austin Aztex of the USL Premier Development League in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Hammerheads lost 5-1 to the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer on Wednesday, May 29 in the third round when the Hammerheads traveled to Jeld-Wen Field in Portland.
Wilmington returns a number of players from last year’s squad, which made it to the USL PRO Championship game before losing to Charleston Battery by a score of 1-0. The Hammerheads are anchored by a pair of experienced midfielders in William Heaney and Aaron Patrick, with former Seattle Sounders defender Daniel Steres holding down the defense.
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