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Phoenix FC goes for three in a row in quest for playoff spot

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Phoenix FC will host the Richmond Kickers Friday night in Tempe as the Wolves go for their third win in a row. A win on their home field will take the Wolves one step closer to climbing up the USL PRO regular season standings, where the team currently sits at nine points away from the eighth and final playoff spot. The Wolves have won their last two matches, and they have only given up two goals in their past six outings.

Strong defense has been the story for Phoenix FC over the past month, with the team posting shutouts in five matches going back to June 15. Its only lapse was a 2-1 road loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders. The club has done this with a mixed rotation at goalkeeper, a trend that will continue this week.

Phoenix FC goalkeeper Andrew Weber was sent on loan to the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer last week to bolster its injured goalkeeper corps. The Wolves’ second choice, Sheldon Parkinson, had started three matches leading up to July 6 when he injured his knee against Antigua and will likely be out for the next three to four weeks. The Wolves secured Lalo Fernandez on a loan from Real Salt Lake in its last match, but Fernandez promptly returned to RSL due to its own injuries at goal. Phoenix native Humberto Soriano, who came in to finish the game against Antigua when Parkinson went down, is healthy and ready to play this week.

Starting defender Cyprian Hedrick will not play due to a mandatory one-game yellow card suspension. Midfielder Anthony Obodai will also sit for the same reason. Picking up the defensive duties will be veteran Isaiah Schafer who is 100 percent after recent hamstring troubles. The midfielder spot will be filled by any number of players that have seen extensive playing time this season, including the possibility of Thomas Ramos, Jose Ramos or Reid Schmitt. Phoenix FC will be without forward Travis Bowen (groin) and midfielder Diego Faria (calf), but standout forwards Peabo Doue and Darren Mackie are expected to play.

Phoenix FC lost on the road to Richmond in the first meeting of the two clubs on May 31. Despite outshooting the Kickers 8-4, the Wolves were unable to net a goal and lost a heartbreaker by a score of 1-0. Richmond has not lost a single match this season and currently enjoys the second place position in regular season standings.

The Kickers’ high scoring offense has posted 33 goals on the year, led by a trio of forwards in Joseph Ngwenya, Michael Seaton and Brian Ownby. Richmond’s goalkeepers have been stingy on defense, giving only given up 12 goals on the season.

This week’s match is another must-win for Phoenix FC which must sweep the rest of its schedule if it hopes to contend for the final USL PRO playoff spot. The match kicks off at 7:30pm at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in Tempe, and it will be streamed live at