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Rising FC drop two points at the death, draw third straight match

(Twitter photo/@PHXRisingFC)

Phoenix Rising FC returned to action Saturday night against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in front of a fifth-straight sellout crowd at Casino Arizona Field.

It seemed PRFC was destined for its first win of the season, but a 90th-minute equalizer saw the match end in a 2-2 draw.

Joey Farrell and Adam Jahn scored for Rising FC, which has drawn all three of its games this season.

“It’s getting annoying,” PRFC manager Rick Schantz said. “We’re playing the best soccer in the league and we can’t get results so we have to get it figured out.”

Phoenix was coming off of a Week 3-bye following its back-to-back 3-3 draws to San Antonio FC and New Mexico United.

Schantz made four changes to his starting XI that faced New Mexico United in Week 2 of the 2019 USL Championship season.

Defender Joey Farrell, midfielders James Musa and Jon Bakero, and forward Jason Johnson were the four new names listed on the match’s starting lineup sheets in place of defender Mustapha Dumbuya, midfielders Kevon Lambert and Jose Aguinaga, and forward Junior Flemmings.

However, Schantz had good reasons for his lineup changes, as Dumbuya and Aguinaga were both listed on the injury report for Saturday’s match. Lambert and Flemmings were also returning from their time with the Jamaican National Team over the international break. The two started in Jamaica’s 1-0 loss to Costa Rica on Tuesday.

Farrell’s season debut Saturday night made him the fifth different center back Schantz has chosen in just three games on the 2019 campaign.

Although the starting XI consisted of three center backs (Tristan Blackmon, A.J. Cochran and Farrell), Blackmon was the makeshift right back in Schantz’s back four. Left back Amadou Dia pushed extremely high up the pitch in order to provide pace on the wings as well as service into the box, which resulted in defensive midfielder James Musa filling the space left by Dia.

“Organizationally it’s important for us to kind of protect the defense,” Schantz said.

“That was kind of the idea tonight: make sure we didn’t give up any easy ones and 25th minute we did it again.”

Bakero also made his season debut as well as his Rising FC debut against Switchbacks FC. The Toronto FC loanee put in a man of the match worthy performance with his final ball ability, including an assist on Farrell’s equalizing goal just before the half off of a corner.

“Jon’s a good player,” Rising FC forward Adam Jahn said.

“We need to get him on the ball more but we saw glimpses of what he can bring and as the season goes on and he gets used to us more and more, you’ll see some great things from him.”

The goal was PRFC’s seventh consecutive equalizer — a club record — and Farrell’s third against Colorado Springs, making him the team’s leading goal scorer against Switchbacks FC.

“It feels good to open my account but it’s worthless at this point,” Farrell said.

“Obviously we wanted the three points and we were really close to getting it and just in the last minutes we let it slip away which is frustrating. We’re back to work on Monday and we keep pushing.”

Phoenix has now allowed the opening goal in all three of its matches this season.

Switchbacks FC started 16-year old goalkeeper Abraham Rodriguez Saturday night. The 5-foot-9 Rodriguez faced 32 shots from PRFC.

“I was pretty upset at halftime and I just said that they don’t have that killer instinct right now,” Schantz said.

“We should have been up 5-0 at halftime. We can’t do this. Our team is too good to let these teams hang around like this.”

In the 79th minute, Asante stepped up to the spot to take a penalty that would give PRFC its first lead of the season, but the 16-year old Rodriguez was able to make the stop, keeping the scoreline level at 1-1.

Asante made up for his blunder in the 86th by connecting with Phoenix number nine Jahn for what appeared to be the game-winning goal.

“When Solo has the ball, you just run in the box and he played a great ball and I was able to get my head on it,” Jahn said. “He did all the work and all I had to do was get a touch on it.”

Unfortunately for PRFC, Ismaila Jome hit a free kick from the side of the box that found the far top corner to equalize the match for Switchbacks FC at the death.

“Right now it seems like we can’t get the right bounces to go our way,” Farrell said.

“We’re pushing hard and we’re proving a hard team to beat but we keep dropping points in the form of draws rather than wins. Especially on our home field, we want to win every game here for our fans and for the club. We dropped two. It’s time to focus up and rebound next game and make sure we secure the three points at home.”

Phoenix Rising FC’s next match is April 6 against Fresno FC at Casino Arizona Field with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

The match can be viewed on CW or listen live on ArizonaSports.com: bit.ly/RisingFConAZSports