Phoenix Rising looks to make it 4 consecutive wins in league play
Phoenix Rising FC returns to Casino Arizona Field to host Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Friday night.
Roughnecks FC is coming off of a 3-2 loss at home to Austin Bold FC and is winless in its last five matches (0-1-4).
Friday night’s game will be Tulsa’s fourth on the road in its last five. The club has a road record of 1-3-3 on the 2019 campaign with its only win coming in Week 2 over Orange County SC, 5-3. Meanwhile, Phoenix Rising looks to win its fourth straight match and extend its eight-game unbeaten streak at home that dates back to last season, including playoff games.
The Roughnecks will be led by the attacking prowess of Luca Lobo, Janu Silva and Rodrigo Da Costa.
Lobo’s seven goals are tied with PRFC forward Adam Jahn and Silva’s five goals are tied with Phoenix captain Solomon Asante for the fourth and 13th most goals in the Western Conference, respectively.
Tulsa’s two leading goal scorers combine for 12 of the club’s 24 goals on the year which is tied for the fifth most goals in USL Championship, just two goals behind Rising’s 26 (third in USL Championship).
Seven of the Roughnecks’ 24 goals this season have been assisted by Da Costa (tied for the most in the league).
Da Costa also has a 7.6 average rating per match, good enough to rank him among USL Championship’s top-10. Asante sits atop the league with an average per match rating of 7.92 and is tied for the league lead with 3.5 key passes per match.
Although Tulsa’s attack is one of the league’s best, having scored multiple goals in more than half its games and been held scoreless just once, keeping the ball out of the back of their own net has plagued the Roughnecks this season.
The club is tied for the sixth-most goals allowed in the Western Conference (21), giving Tulsa a goal differential of only plus-three compared to Phoenix’s 14 goals conceded (third-least in the Western Conference) and plus-12 goal differential (tied for first in the Western Conference).
Rising FC is coming off of a Week 13 bye following its 4-2 road win against the Real Monarchs in which PRFC midfielder Jose Aguinaga was named to the Week 12 Team of the Week after completing 32 of 37 passes (86%), including two assists and three key passes.
Phoenix comes into Friday night having won three straight matches, outscoring its opponents 11-3 in those games. As a team, Rising has accumulated a 6.9 team rating that is tied for the best in USL Championship.
Jahn, the spearhead of the dynamic attacking trio of Asante, Jahn and Flemmings, is responsible for four of those 11 goals and has scored five of his seven goals on the year in the club’s last four league matches. The club’s leading goal scorer has also been nominated for May’s USL Championship’s Player of the Month.
It’s been a bittersweet week for Rising FC, as the team will be without midfielder Kevon Lambert and Flemmings for about a month following the duo’s call-up to the Jamaican National Team for the upcoming Gold Cup.
But don’t think Phoenix Rising will lament the absence of two of its regular starters. In fact, the club is more than supportive of its Jamaican pair bestowing the honor of representing their country in an international competition.
Some PRFC members even supported Jamaica in Wednesday’s friendly against the United States Men’s National Team in which Lambert had the assist on the game-winning goal in Jamaica’s 1-0 win.
“That just speaks to Phoenix Rising as a club itself that we have guys getting called into their national teams,” said PRFC goalkeeper Zac Lubin.
“No one deserves it more than Kevon Lambert: a constant professional working hard in training. And then in games he even takes it to another level in terms of his ability and what he’s capable of and it’s great to see him get that recognition.
“We’re all rooting for Jamaica for sure. We obviously want the U.S. team to win, but to see a teammate on that stage and doing well, that’s what we all really want to see, too.”
For the first time this season, Rising will be without Flemmings, the only player to appear in every match for Phoenix this season. Through 12 games thus far on the 2019 campaign, the Asante-Jahn-Flemmings trio (AJF) has accounted for 18 of the team’s 26 goals (69%), six of which have come from the Jamaican forward.
The likes of Joey Calistri and James Musa will most likely step in to replace Flemmings and Lambert, respectively. And with the injuries to forward Jason Johnson and midfielder Collin Fernandez already thinning the depth at those positions, some might have to platoon out of position for the time being.
Calistri and Lubin might have a little extra motivation for Friday’s match, as the two are both former Roughnecks FC players.
“There always is for some reason,” Lubin said. “I don’t know why. I have a lot of love for Tulsa.
“When I was there, I really enjoyed my time … but when we play them, I want to beat them. When I’ve played against them, I’ve had some incredible games. Some of my best games come against them so I’m hoping to repeat that on Friday night.”
Phoenix has won its last three matches against Tulsa, outscoring Roughnecks FC 9-4 in those games. Friday’s match is also $1 beer night in which Rising FC is a perfect 10-0-0 all-time.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and the match can be audio-streamed on ArizonaSports.com.