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Phoenix Rising FC win tenth consecutive match on $1 beer night

(Twitter photo/Phoenix Rising FC)

Phoenix Rising FC hosted Rio Grande Valley FC in what was the first Copper State Friday match of the season.

PRFC proved to be the victor, as the club won 3-1 in front of an eighth consecutive sellout, making it 10 consecutive wins on $1 beer night.

Adam Jahn scored twice while James Musa scored the third for the Rising, which won for the first time in four matches.

Manager Rick Schantz made two changes from his starting XI away to Orange County SC last week. Midfielders Jon Bakero and James Musa started in place of Jose Aquinaga and Collin Fernandez, respectively. Fernandez was unavailable for Friday night’s match due to a lower-body injury.

Amadou Dia wore the captain’s armband because Solomon Asante was unavailable for Friday’s match due to personal reasons.

“It means everything,” Dia said.

“Solo and I had a conversation before he left and he put it in my hands to trust me to lead the team out there while he’s not here so it’s bigtime for me. It means a lot, especially what he’s going through. We did it for [Asante]. We did it for [Jason Johnson]. We did it for [Alessandro] Riggi who’s still coming back. He’ll be back soon.”

Schantz also made some tactical changes to his side. He converted his normal 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 with Bakero and Kevon Lambert playing higher up.

“We started in preseason and we believe it’s the team we’re building,” Schantz said.

“Some of the players we have have challenges and it’s the USL – they have to develop. We have to make them better. We pushed Lambert up a little higher in this game. The guy is such a physical beast and he wins everything for us in the midfield.

“I thought James Musa did well tonight, doubling down when they played it in behind. The big key was the substitutions were just the best.”

The higher positioning of Bakero and Lambert resulted in Musa dropping as the number six.

“I definitely prefer being the single guy by myself and it gives us a few more attacking options as well, which is good,” Musa said.

“You can see [Lambert] and [Bakero] a little bit higher, able to break lines and get the ball to them so they can turn. I enjoy it.”

The tactical change was evident from the start, as Phoenix constantly pressured Rio Grande Valley on the ball, resulting in Rising having more possession in RGV’s half in the first 15 minutes of the game.

The first shot of the game was also the first goal of the game, as a Junior Flemmings cross was volleyed into the back of the net by Adam Jahn in the 16th minute of the match.

Jahn got his second goal of the game 12 minutes later after being taken down in the box by the RGV keeper, resulting in a cheeky Panenka that gave his side a 2-0 lead.

RGV’s first shot didn’t come until the 33th minute of the match and its first shot on target came in just before halftime.

Rio Grande Valley had a plethora of chances in the opening minutes of the second half. Rising goalkeeper Zac Lubin was dispossessed just outside of his box, resulting in an open-net shot by Rio Grande Valley, but Farrell was able to block the shot keeping the clean sheet alive.

Rio Grande Valley should’ve gotten on the board in the 52nd minute, but a Lubin double-save continued to keep RGV off the score sheet.

In the 70th minute, Musa hit a world-class strike from 30-yards out the hovered just above the pitch into the bottom corner.

“I haven’t scored a goal in like two years now so it has been a longtime coming for me,” Musa said.

“The last couple weeks in training I’ve been hitting it pretty sweet. I’ve been just concentrating and practicing my shooting so it has paid off. Hard work does pay off. I’ve been practicing, practicing, practicing and in the game, one moment and there it is: back of the net.”

But just as Phoenix took a commanding 3-0 lead, RGV was able to get it back after a Lubin spill resulted in an easy tap in.

PRFC would go on to kill the game off, ending the game with a 3-1 scoreline in favor of Rising FC.

“We have had a slow start to the season and that was a massive home win to set us up,” Musa said.

“We’ll be looking to carry some momentum through those games. We have an Open Cup game Wednesday but we really need to kickstart our season, keep this momentum going, get three points every week and get the pressure going and back up the top of the table.”

Phoenix Rising FC will host New Mexico United on Wednesday in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup. Should the match be tied after 90 minutes, the game will go into extra time and possibly penalties, as a winner must be decided.

“The way we came this week has been really different from the last couple weeks,” Dia said.

“We made a statement tonight that we’re on the way back up and we just have to keep going and keep pushing.

“We have two games coming up really quickly so it’s a short turnaround – get ready and get back out here against New Mexico in Open Cup, especially last year since we lost in the first round. We remember that very well. We’re not going to let that happen again.”

Rising FC lost in the second round of last year’s U.S. Open Cup to Sporting AZ FC on penalties.

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