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Phoenix Rising FC faces Louisville City FC with USL Cup at stake

Some things never change. Didier Drogba celebrates his free kick goal in the Phoenix Rising's playoff game the same way he celebrated his 2012 Champions League-winning penalty for Chelsea. (Photo by Ricardo Ávila/Cronkite News)

Phoenix Rising FC has provided a much-needed escape for Valley sports fans this year.

Just four years since its inception, the team has a chance to win its first USL Cup in franchise history Thursday. Rising FC finished the regular season 19-9-6, which was good enough to send the club to the postseason.

In the first three rounds of the playoffs, Rising FC defeated Portland Timbers 2, Swope Park and Orange County Soccer Club, respectively, to send the team to the Final. Former international superstar Didier Drogba has been a catalyst for the club’s recent success, scoring a goal in each of the three playoff matches.

Rising FC’s finals opponent, Louisville City FC, has also been successful season this season. The club finished with the exact same record (19-9-6) as Phoenix Rising FC, and in the playoffs, Louisville City FC has outscored opponents 11-2.

This is a match of firsts for Phoenix Rising FC. The first time the club’s been in the USL Cup Final. The first time the club’s faced Louisville City FC. This is even the first time Phoenix Rising FC has played east of the Mississippi River.

Time: 6 p.m.

TV: ESPN2

Watch party:

For fans unable to make the trek to Kentucky, there is still a chance for them to show their team pride. Rising FC is throwing a watch party at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. Admission is free, plus food and beverages will be provided.

Patrons can either sit on the pitch with blankets (chairs not allowed) or in the west stands. The match will be shown on two large projector screens on the pitch.