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Phoenix FC starts fast, ends with a draw

TEMPE, Ariz. — Phoenix FC looked poised to get its first win in seven weeks Friday night, but all of its chances amounted to no goals.

A strong start to the match, the team’s best since arguably the home opener in March, gave the Wolves confidence as they pushed forward on the attack. The chances were there in the final minutes, but Dayton Dutch Lions FC managed to hang on for a scoreless draw and take a road point.

Travis Bowen and Anthony Obodai provided a number of scoring opportunities from their midfield positions. Scott Morrison was also a key to the attack. The Wolves controlled most of the possession and earned 15 corner kicks to Dayton’s four for the match.

Phoenix FC earned a point to move to 2-9-5 on the season but has not won a match since April 28. Recent form has the Wolves on the precipice of three points, but the winless streak has reached 10 USL PRO matches. The team has fought to back-to-back scoreless draws.

Friday night, Phoenix FC got off to a blistering start with two corner kicks and two quality chances for Bowen and Obodai in the first six minutes. In the 15th minute, midfielder Donny Toia missed a header just wide left.

Phoenix FC recorded at least four shots on goal in the first half alone.

“We didn’t tie because of a lack of effort,” Bowen said. “It’s just a bit unlucky at the moment. Once one goes in, I think it’s going to open the floodgates.”

The attack stagnated some early in the second half, but the Wolves went right back to knocking on the door after Toia and Darren Mackie whiffed on good looks in front of the goal.

The finals few minutes of the match featured a flurry of activity. Toia’s attempt went high in the 89th minute, then right at the end of 90 minutes, a near-own goal by the Dutch Lions’ Shintaro Harada came close to gifting the Wolves a much-needed victory.

In extra time, Bowen had a look in front of the goal but missed wide, as the crowd of 1,453 groaned. Goalkeeper Andrew Weber and the Phoenix FC defense, led by another solid performance from Isaiah Schafer, were stout throughout the night.

Phoenix FC hits the road next week for back-to-back matches at the Harrisburg City Islanders on June 28 and the Rochester Rhinos on June 29. The Wolves meet these two USL PRO teams for the first time this season.

Phoenix FC now has 11 points from 16 matches as it tries to get back into the playoff picture in USL PRO.