Phoenix Rising wins club record 6th consecutive match, remain 1st in West
Phoenix Rising FC won an unprecedented sixth consecutive match on Tuesday night.
The club defeated Reno 1868 FC on the road by a score of 3-0 to remain atop the Western Conference standings.
While the scoreline might indicate otherwise, it was a hard-fought three points for Rising FC.
Phoenix remains the deadliest attacking team in USL Championship with its league-leading 37 goals scored and +23 goal differential.
PRFC also boasts the second-best defense in the Western Conference having only allowed 14 goals in 15 matches.
The shutout also extends the club’s clean sheet record in the month of June to nine. Rising hasn’t allowed a goal in June since 2017.
PRFC followed the same formula from Saturday’s 3-0 win over Orange Country SC.
Manager Rick Schantz went with the same exact starting XI and the team followed suit by going a goal up inside the first 10 minutes of the match.
Goalkeeper Zac Lubin also captured his eighth clean sheet of the season (2nd in USL Championship).
Unfortunately for Lubin, two of his best saves on the night won’t show up on the stat sheet due to fouls being called on Reno, negating both shots.
Almost against the run of play, captain Solomon Asante became USL Championship’s leading assist man (8) by cutting a ball back for Adam Jahn at the top of the box that resulted in a cool finish from the club’s leading goal scorer (9).
Ten minutes into the second half, Asante had his unselfish play returned from Jose Aguinaga as the Spaniard chested down a ball in the box that the Ghanaian buried in the back of the net to give his side a 2-0 lead. Asante has now scored in five consecutive matches, tying him with Junior Flemmings for second on the team in goals (8).
With the three points already in hand in the dying seconds of the match, Rising FC tacked on another one for good measure with a set piece straight off the training ground. Collin Fernandez whipped a ball into the box for Andrew Wheeler who headed it across the face of goal only to be finished by Joey Calistri, his second in as many games.
It was the second match in which PRFC was missing both Kevon Lambert and Flemmings as the two continue to represent Jamaica in the Gold Cup.
But the team hasn’t missed a beat with James Musa and Calistri starting in place of the “Reggae Boyz,” respectively.
In fact, Schantz will have a difficult decision to make upon the Jamaicans’ return to the squad should the quality of play from Musa and Calistri continue.
Schantz has said that he won’t punish players for playing well which is evident in Doueugui Mala remaining a starting center back despite the return of A.J. Cochran.
But the Phoenix manager won’t have to make that decision for another three weeks or so, and a lot can happen between now and then.
If there is one problem every manager wants to have, it’s having more starting XI-caliber players than there are starting spots on the pitch.
That depth will pay dividends as the club approaches the halfway mark on the year already having lost forward Jason Johnson for a good chunk of the season.
Phoenix Rising will return to action on Saturday away to OKC Energy FC.
Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. and the match can be audio streamed on ArizonaSports.com.