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Coach on Phoenix Rising’s MLS goals: ‘I think it’s just a matter of time’

(Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC)

Phoenix Rising FC head coach Rick Schantz grew up in Tucson and knows the state of youth soccer in Arizona well. He worked up the food chain to become the FC Tucson head coach before making the leap to join the Rising’s staff just two years ago.

Now the Rising’s head coach, he’s in charge of leading a USL team through a successful stint.

Further success includes more winning, but it also involves empowering and improving the youth soccer programs in the state.

“First and foremost, Phoenix Rising, the mission statement has been to kind of unite and inspire Arizona soccer,” Shantz said on Doug & Wolf during 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Newsmakers Week. “It’s not necessarily (about being in the) MLS or USL. It’s to create a professional team that brings the whole state together.

“Soccer in Arizona for many, many years has been splintered. You have all these youth clubs, different organizations. Everyone’s fighting over the same 20 kids to be the best. For us it’s kind of: let’s make a pyramid. Let’s get focused on one goal.”

It’s a business, however.

And the next big thing for a USL team that has built a strong fanbase playing off the Loop 202 and made a 2018 appearance in the league’s championship game is obvious.

“From a business perspective, MLS is our ownership’s goal,” Schantz said. “It’s where they want to be and what they want to do. They’ve done everything. They check off all the boxes. I think it’s just a matter of time now before we get it.”

Doug & Wolf