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Phoenix Rising falls to Real Monarchs despite dominating performance

(Photo courtesy of Ashley Orellana)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Phoenix Rising FC’s 17-game unbeaten streak at home came to an end on Saturday night after suffering a 2-1 loss to Real Monarchs SLC.

But not all losses are created equal.

It was a dominating performance by Phoenix in nearly all facets of the match. Rising controlled the game with its 59% possession and outshot Monarchs, 24-11.

But it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.

That’s what plagued Phoenix on Saturday night. Rising was unable to find the final ball in the attacking third. Many half chances went begging after errant passes or touches. Phoenix did test Monarchs’ goalkeeper and even hit post, but a majority of the 24 shots weren’t on frame.

“We were not very good in the final third,” Rising manager Rick Schantz said after the game.

“The front three were pressing a little too hard. They weren’t playing simple. Some touches were a little off, but we still created plenty. We got into really good, dangerous spaces today. Our final pass just wasn’t there.”

Schantz was without two regular starters in forward Junior Flemmings and midfielder Kevon Lambert, who were out due to international duty and yellow card accumulation, respectively.

The turning point of the match came in the final 20 minutes.

After multiple shouts for a Rising penalty went unanswered, the referee finally did point to the spot, but not in Phoenix’s favor. Real Monarchs were gifted a penalty — that was a questionable call at best — and converted from 12 yards out via midfielder Maikel Chang to take a 1-0 lead in the 74th minute.

“It wasn’t a pen. Not close,” Schantz said.

Phoenix was able to equalize in the 82nd minute after forward Ben Spencer headed home an Adam Jahn flick off a Mustapha Dumbuya cross. Add that to the list of Schantz substitutes that have scored or assisted a goal this season.

But it was just one of those nights for Rising. Everything but the final product was there.

In the dying moments of the match, goalkeeper Zac Lubin was unable to catch a corner kick, which resulted in an easy finish for Monarchs forward Kyle Coffee to give his side the 2-1 victory.

In the grand scheme of things, the loss really has no bearing on the remainder of Rising’s season.

However, Saturday night’s match is a perfect example of what can happen in the playoffs. In a single-elimination tournament, one slip-up, one bad call, one set piece — and it’s all over. And theoretically, a team doesn’t even have to score a goal in the playoffs and can still lift the USL Cup if every game were to end 0-0 and go to pens.

Phoenix Rising returns to action on Friday for its final game of the regular season against 14th-place OKC Energy FC. Phoenix defeated OKC 4-1 in their last matchup on June 22.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be audio-streamed on ArizonaSports.com.