PHOENIX RISING FC

Rufat Dadashov nets hat trick as Phoenix Rising thrash Timbers 2

Mar 7, 2020, 11:28 PM | Updated: Mar 9, 2020, 7:11 pm
(Photo courtesy of Ashley Orellana)...
(Photo courtesy of Ashley Orellana)
(Photo courtesy of Ashley Orellana)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It couldn’t have been a better start for the 2019 USL Championship regular-season title winners.

Phoenix Rising opened its 2020 campaign with a bang as PRFC defeated Portland Timbers 2 by a scoreline of 6-1 on Saturday night.

Aside from Portland’s consolation goal right before the halftime whistle, Phoenix absolutely dominated the game from start to finish, including having more shots on target than Timbers 2 did in totality on the night. Rising was able to amass 31 shots (14 on target), while Portland was only able to garner 11 shots, only four of which were on frame.

“The first 40 minutes were very good. I thought we had good intensity, good concentration, very focused,” manager Rick Schantz said after the match.

“The guys are still kind of learning each other and you could see a few missed passes early on. The second half, I really wanted them to be better and I wanted them to be a little bit more sharp. The only time we got ourselves in trouble was when we had unforced errors. If we clean that it is going be a pretty good team this season.”

A question mark coming into the season opener was who exactly Schantz was going to deploy in his first starting XI of 2020 after the abundance of talent Phoenix acquired this offseason. The 2019 Coach of the Year started forward Rufat Dadashov — who didn’t score all preseason — and midfielder Sam Stanton, who has only been training with the squad for less than a month after coming over from the Scottish second division.

Dadashov rewarded Schantz for his confidence in him, as Phoenix’s new No. 9 netted a hat trick in his Rising debut. Captain Solomon Asante and forward Junior Flemmings added to the attacking prowess. The trio combined for five goals and three assists in the 6-1 thrashing.

“Apparently, preseason means nothing to him because he hadn’t scored a goal yet for us, so he saved them all up for when they really counted,” Schantz said. “We know he can score goals and he was getting on the end of Solo’s crosses.”

Dadashov opened up Rising’s goal tally on the 2020 campaign just 13 minutes into the match. The forward was able to pounce on a rebound after captain Solomon Asante’s free kick rattled the crossbar. The goal is also the forward’s first in a PRFC kit after coming over from Germany this offseason.

Dadashov continued to impress in his Rising debut, as Phoenix’s No. 9 netted his brace just 11 minutes later to double PRFC’s advantage at 2-0. The forward connected on a cross from Asante to give the single-season assist record holder his first on the new year.

Forward Junior Flemmings was able to cap off a dominating first half by Rising after getting on the charts for the first time this season. In the 31st minute, the Jamaican danced his way around the box and passed it in for a cool finish and a 3-0 lead in PRFC’s favor.

Timbers 2 managed to get what would end up being a consolation right on the end of halftime via Tomas Conechny’s first-time finish to bring the scoreline to 3-1 in Rising’s favor at halftime.

After narrowly missing a third goal earlier in the match, Dadashov completed his hat trick on a tap-in that was played Asante, his second assist on the night.

Kunga may have come on in the 85th minute, but that was more than enough time for the 21-year-old to get his first goal of the season in his Rising debut in the 90th minute to give his side a 5-1 lead.

But Phoenix wasn’t done and it continued to pour it on, as Asante was able to get a goal just prior to the final whistle off a Flemmings’ to bring the game to its final scoreline of 6-1.

STOPPAGE TIME

Forward Santi Moar was left off the bench — a surprise to many — as the Spaniard has been one of Rising’s most impressive players in the preseason.

“Yesterday, we thought we had him back ready to go and he kind of rolled his ankle a little bit,” Schantz said. “He’ll be fully fit for Monday’s training and he’ll be back in. Can you just imagine if we had him in this team tonight?”

UP NEXT

Rising returns to action on Saturday as Phoenix is away to Real Monarchs, who defeated PRFC 2-1 in last year’s Western Conference semifinal en route to winning the 2019 USL Championship Final.

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. and will be audio-streamed on ArizonaSports.com.

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