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10-man Phoenix Rising wins 7th in a row, prove to be league’s best offense

(Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC)

Phoenix Rising FC won its seventh consecutive match in decisive fashion on Saturday night with a 4-1 road win over OKC Energy FC while being down a man for over 60 minutes of the 90.

The victory extends the club-record winning streak to seven matches in which Rising has outscored its opponents 26-4.

That goal differential over the seven-game span means that the club has won each game by an average scoreline of 3.7-0.6.

Speaking of goal differential, Phoenix’s league-best is now up to +26. But what’s even more impressive about Rising FC’s attacking prowess is that 28 of the 36 teams in USL Championship have only managed to score 26 or fewer goals the entire season. PRFC has 41 on the 2019 campaign, eight more than the No. 2 spot (New Mexico United).

Phoenix Rising now has 32 points through 16 matches this season, just one point behind Tampa Bay Rowdies for the most in USL Championship.

Only 15 minutes into the match, Rising captain Solomon Asante scuffed what looked like an excuse-me shot or cross that was deflected by OKC defender Atiba Harris into the back of the net for an own goal to give Phoenix yet another early 1-0 lead.

Rising FC proved once again that you’re most vulnerable after conceding, scoring another goal just three minutes later. PRFC forward Joey Calistri tucked in from the left wing and played left back Amadou Dia in on goal from his overlapping run. Dia was able to find Asante at the back sticks and the Ghanaian buried it to double Rising’s advantage.

In the 29th minute, Rising center back Joey Farrell was called for a handball in the box, received a second yellow card and was sent off, forcing Phoenix to play with 10 men the remainder of the match.

OKC’s Rafael Garcia converted from the spot to give Energy FC its only goal on the night and end Phoenix Rising’s illustrious no goals conceded in June streak at nine matches. Coming into the game, the last time the club allowed a goal in the month of June was in 2017. However, the silver lining was that Phoenix has still yet to concede from open play in the month of June since 2017.

But PRFC proved it didn’t need all 11 men to score goals. Less than 10 minutes into the second half, midfielder Jon Bakero stepped up and curled a 25-yard free kick around the wall passed the diving Cody Laurendi who leads USL Championship in saves (55).

With less than 15 minutes left to go, Phoenix secured the three points and its seventh-consecutive win. Forward Adam Jahn controlled a ball from Dia with his chest and played it across the top of the box to Asante. The Rising captain took a touch and hit it on the half-volley into the side netting, cementing PRFC’s 4-1 victory.

With his two goals on the night, Asante is now the club’s leading goal scorer with 10, followed closely by Jahn (9) and Junior Flemmings (8). The Ghanaian is tied for the second-most goals in USL Championship and still leads the league in assists (8) despite not having one against OKC. The captain has either scored or assisted on 18 of the team’s 41 goals this year (44%) while only playing in 14 of 16 matches. With one game to go before the official half-way mark on the season, he surely must be the first half MVP.

Phoenix Rising returns to action on Saturday to host Portland Timbers 2 who currently sit just five points behind Rising in second place with a game in hand.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM and audio-streamed on ArizonaSports.com.

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