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Rising capture first win of season with second consecutive shutout

Junior Flemmings. (Photo by Arianna Grainey)

Phoenix Rising FC secured its first win of the season Saturday night away to USL Championship newcomer Locomotive FC.

Rising FC was coming off of its best defensive performance of the year after shutting out Fresno FC last week.

PRFC manager Rick Schantz deployed the same starting lineup as the last match with the exception of two changes: Mustapha Dumbuya and Jose Aguinaga. The two replaced Tristan Blackmon and Jon Bakero, respectively, and neither of the MLS loanees was on the bench for Saturday’s contest.

If he hadn’t already, Schantz has found the formula to his side’s success defensively, as Phoenix collected its second consecutive clean sheet with Zac Lubin in goal and the center back duo of Joey Farrell and A.J. Cochran.

Cochran was also able to notch his first assist while donning the PRFC kit when his longball to Junior Flemmings in the opening minutes of the game resulted in the easiest goal of the Jamaican’s life after El Paso’s goalkeeper Logan Ketterer slipped and fell before getting to the ball.

The match was played exactly how most would have predicted it. Locomotive FC dominated possession with 63 percent, but El Paso wasn’t able to get a shot on target until the dying minutes of the game. And although Lubin may not have been tested on paper, there were a few nervy moments as Locomotive FC’s shots continued to miss wide.

Schantz won the tactical battle Saturday night, as Phoenix Rising’s ability to defend and apply continuous pressure allowed for PRFC to exploit El Paso’s possession game on the counterattack which was never more evident than on Solomon Asante’s assist to Ben Spencer for an easy tap-in.

PRFC was able to fire 12 shots at the El Paso goal, two of which were miraculously saved by Ketterer and will most likely add to the list of Save of the Week nominees against Phoenix.

In all, Rising is continuing to improve every match defensively. And although the scoring pace has slowed down the last two games, PRFC not playing from behind is a major contributor, as the team doesn’t have to push up to equalize like it did in the first three matches of the season. Schantz will be happy with his side’s performance, as their talent is finally being rewarded with results.

Phoenix Rising FC ends the Texas road trip on Wednesday as Phoenix take on another USL Championship newcomer in Austin Bold FC.

The match has a 5:30 p.m. kickoff time and can be viewed on CW, ESPN+ or streamed on