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Rising FC win breaks record for longest win streak in U.S. pro soccer

Solomon Asante. (Twitter photo/@PHXRisingFC)

Finding a way to win, no matter how ugly it might be, is the sign of a great team.

That’s exactly what Phoenix Rising FC did on Tuesday night in its 4-2 victory away to Tacoma Defiance.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in the match and trailing 2-1, Phoenix was able to score three goals in as many minutes to capture all three points.

The victory extends the club’s own USL records to 16 consecutive matches won in league play and seven straight wins on the road.

Consecutive win No. 16 also breaks the record for the longest winning streak in American soccer history that was previously held by MLS side LA Galaxy over a two-season stretch (1997-98).

With Tuesday being the team’s second game in four days, and with a third game in eight days looming on Saturday, Rising manager Rick Schantz began the expected rotation to his starting XI.

Notable changes included Joey Calistri starting over Junior Flemmings and LAFC loanee Peter-Lee Vassell getting the nod over Jon Bakero. Former Liverpool U-23 captain Corey Whelan also made the last 18 for the first time in his Rising career, as Doueugui Mala served a one-game suspension after being sent off in Friday’s 2-1 win over Sacramento.

It was an ugly game from a Rising FC perspective, to say the least, especially against the worst team in the Western Conference.

Phoenix actually took the lead just two minutes into the match, creating the notion that Rising was on its way to a comfortable victory.

It was anything but for Schantz’s side.

For the fourth time in five games, Phoenix Rising would allow yet another cheap goal. This time, goalkeeper Zac Lubin was the culprit after giving away the equalizing penalty just before the half-hour mark.

For what was expected from the worst team in the Western Conference, Tacoma played quite well. Defiance was able to maintain possession and pass through Rising’s high press in the midfield, testing Lubin and even hitting the woodwork twice before taking the lead with less than 20 minutes to go.

Conversely, Tacoma’s high press troubled Phoenix at times as well.

Fortunately for Rising, Defiance only seemed to play for 80 of the 90 minutes. And as the old saying goes, you’re most vulnerable immediately after conceding.

That couldn’t have been more true on Tuesday night, as everything Schantz touched turned to gold. The manager brought on Flemmings, Lambert and Bakero, who would all play a pivotal role in the comeback.

In just three minutes, Bakero notched the assist on the game-tying goal,

Lambert won the ball and created the rebound for the go-ahead goal.

And Flemmings secured all three points after scoring the insurance goal.

“While I’m happy we won, I know we can be better,” Schantz tweeted after the game. “After the boys got together [down 2-1], I saw a team with pride and determination. That is PRFC. That is the bar being raised.”

Rising will play its second match of the two-game road trip on Saturday against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.

Phoenix will be the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth should it come away with the win.

Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. and will be audio-streamed on ArizonaSports.com.

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