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Phoenix Rising return home to face familiar foe Tacoma Defiance FC

(Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising)

Phoenix Rising FC returns to the Valley to host Tacoma Defiance FC (formerly known as Seattle Sounders 2) on Saturday night.

PRFC is coming back from a two-game Texas road trip that saw the club split three of six points, most recently a 1-0 loss to Austin Bold FC on Wednesday.

A return home against Tacoma may be just what the doctor ordered for Rising FC, as the club is 6-2-0 all-time in matches against the Sounders’ affiliate.

Dating back to last season, Phoenix is unbeaten in its last five matches at home (2-0-3) while the Defiance have yet to score on the road this year, losing 4-0, 4-0 and 5-0 at Tulsa Roughnecks FC, Orange County SC and Las Vegas Lights FC, respectively.

Tacoma’s only two wins of the year came in Week 1 over Rio Grande Valley FC and Week 5 over Sacramento Republic FC. However, in Week 5’s 2-1 win over Sacramento, ten of the team’s 11 starters were on loan from MLS affiliate Seattle Sounders, a starting XI that ruffled some feathers throughout the USL Championship.

One of those starters was a familiar face to Rising fans: Saad Abdul-Salaam, last year’s number one choice at right back for PRFC manager Rick Schantz. He had 13 caps (all starts) in a Rising kit last season that included one assist and a starting spot in the 2018 USL Cup Final. Abdul-Salaam has since made his way to the Seattle Sounders after spending last season here in the Valley while on loan from New York City FC.

Tacoma’s defense this year has been bad to put it kindly. The backline has allowed a USL Championship most 19 goals this season, giving the Defiance a share of the league’s worst goal differential (-15) and goals conceded per match (2.7). Constant on ball pressure has led to many of the goals Tacoma has conceded this season. Not only have outfield players made mistakes and left their keeper out to dry, but even the three different goalkeepers the Defiance has used this year have all had absolute howlers.

The Defiance have also had a poor attack, as the club has only been able to muster four goals in seven matches. Bold FC is the only Western Conference team to have scored less in 2019.

Schantz will be licking his chops as his side matchup perfectly against Tacoma. The PRFC manager’s high-pressure tactics should cause problems for the Defiance, a team that actually holds its own in possession, but can’t quite find that final ball – much like Austin. If Phoenix is able to dispossess Tacoma in the midfield, there will be a plethora of chances to break quickly on the counter as PRFC did against El Paso Locomotive FC:

And with the form Rising FC’s defense is in (one goal allowed in three matches) only another Player of the Week performance from an opposing goalkeeper will keep PRFC from capturing all three points. The trend of unbelievable goalkeeper play by opposing teams this year surely can’t continue like this, can it?

Phoenix Rising FC complete the short turnaround against Tacoma Defiance FC at Casino Arizona Field.

Kickoff time is set for 7:30 p.m., and the match can be audio streamed on ArizonaSports.com.

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