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Rising FC gives Ramage 3 points as parting gift, moves up to 2nd place

Phoenix Rising captain and forward Solomon Asante. (Arizona Sports/Ashley Orellana)

Phoenix Rising FC assistant coach Peter Ramage asked for three points as a parting gift prior to his departure to Newcastle United. That’s exactly what he got.

Phoenix Rising defeated El Paso Locomotive FC 3-1 at Casino Arizona Field on Saturday night.

And following Saturday night’s results around the Western Conference, Rising moves back up to second place in Group B.

It was a stellar performance for PRFC, as Phoenix was able to control the game against an El Paso side that is known to play matches at their tempo.

The three goals scored by Phoenix makes PRFC just the second club to score on El Paso this season, as Locomotive came into the match tied for a USL Championship-best two clean sheets on the 2020 campaign.

And up until the dying minutes of the match, Rising even had more total passes than Locomotive, who also came into Saturday night’s contest as the league’s fifth-highest passing team and the Western Conference’s second-highest.

“The start of the second half, I think our guys were trying to draw them out a little bit more, make sure that they’re attacking us and opening space behind because we had said that Junior and Solo were going to get more chances behind them,” manager Rick Schantz said. “We just have to be patient.

“I think they were surprised that we were willing to pass it around the back as much as we were and as they started to come forward, we started to look to get in behind. So I think they were nervous, their center backs were a little nervous that every time they got the ball, they dropped off and that creates space in the midfield.”

A lot of Phoenix’s success came the same way it did against Los Dos — through the middle. That’s something that had been missing in Rising’s buildup play the last two matches against Orange County SC.

Phoenix was able to use Rufat Dadashov and Jon Bakero in the middle in order to play balls in and out wide for captain Solomon Asante and forward Junior Flemmings.

“Every time we got possession the first five or 10 minutes, we were doing kind of what we did against Orange County — we were moving the ball side to side,” Schantz said.

“But I started to see A.J. [Cochran] and Corey [Whelan] start to look for Jon [Bakero] and Sam [Stanton] a little bit more and that opened up the space behind them. And then when we can find Solo and Rufat in behind our 10’s, we get really dangerous.”

El Paso opened the scoring just 15 minutes into the match. A quick bit of interplay was able to stretch Rising’s defense just enough to allow Aarón Gómez in on goal to give Locomotive FC an early 1-0 lead.

But the lead would be shortlived, as Phoenix was able to get the equalizer via the penalty spot just four minutes later. After PRFC was awarded a penalty, forward Dadashov asked to take the spot-kick and converted from 12 yards out to tie the game at 1-1 in the 19th minute. Dadashov now has four goals on the year for Phoenix Rising.

Asante was able to get on the scoresheet in the 36th minute. Following a ball played in by Dadashov, the Ghanaian was able to control it and put it past the diving El Paso goalkeeper to give Phoenix a 2-1 lead.

But the best goal of the night belonged to Flemmings. The Jamaican international was able to beat two Locomotive FC defenders with his fancy footwork and was able to slot it home.

“Tonight, the biggest thing was about when they make a little mistake, how fast can we go?” Schantz said. “I thought our goals were some of the best transition goals you’re going to see.

“I thought Junior was spectacular — what a goal. If that goal is not up for Goal of the Week, I’m going to be a little disappointed.”

STOPPAGE TIME

  • Goalkeeper Eric Dick made his first start in a Phoenix Rising uniform.
  • Usual starting goalkeeper Zac Lubin was held out due to having flu-like symptoms prior to the match.

UP NEXT

Phoenix Rising returns to action on Aug. 8 as the club hosts New Mexico United at Casino Arizona Field.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be audio broadcasted live on ArizonaSports.com and on the new Arizona Sports app.