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Phoenix Rising’s luck runs out at the death in draw away to Las Vegas

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

It’s better to be lucky than good.

While Phoenix Rising FC drew with Las Vegas Lights FC 3-3 at Cashman Field on Saturday night, it was the way in which the match was brought to its final scoreline that raised eyebrows in Sin City.

Phoenix Rising allowed two goals in stoppage time on the night, the second of which was somewhat controversial.

With only four minutes of added time at the end of the 90 minutes, PRFC had a 3-1 lead and looked to be coming away with all three points. But due to injury stoppages and substitutions during the minimum four minutes of additional time, the referee allowed the game to go on until nearly the 90+10′ mark.

After Las Vegas cut the deficit to 3-2 in the 90+5′ via an A.J. Cochran own goal, Lights FC had one more crack at an equalizer at the death.

Vegas was awarded a free kick around the center circle that the referee had to instruct to be taken on Lights FC’s side of the field. The ensuing ball was whipped in and bounced around like a pinball machine until it finally fell to the feet of Las Vegas forward Blake Frischknecht, who backheeled it to teammate Ramon Del Campo for the 90+9′ equalizer.

“Not how to finish a game,” Phoenix Rising manager Rick Schantz tweeted after the game. “We have to be stronger in challenging moments. This will motivate myself, staff and players to push harder.”

So why did the referee allow the match to go passed the four added minutes of stoppage time?

By rule, the added time at the end of a half is the minimum amount of time that must be played in addition to the 45-minute half. It is then up to the referee’s discretion to add even more time should there be time-wasting, injuries, substitutions, etc.

The draw ends Phoenix’s four-game winning streak but the team still remains atop the USL Championship Group B standings.

Saturday night’s contest saw multiple changes to the starting XI that defeated LA Galaxy II 2-0 on Wednesday.

After Joey Calistri started the last two matches over Owusu-Ansah Kontoh at fullback, Schantz elected to give the Ghanaian another go in the starting lineup. Goalkeeper Eric Dick also started over Zac Lubin between the sticks for PRFC.

Rufat Dadashov made his return to Schantz’s starting XI on Saturday night as well.

The Azerbaijani international didn’t miss a beat, as Dadashov opened the scoring with a goal in the fifth minute of the game to give Phoenix Rising an early 1-0 lead.

Captain Solomon Asante was able to whip a ball into the No. 9’s feet, which Dadashov was able to control with a sublime first touch and then bury into the back of the net.

The goal is Dadashov’s sixth on the 2020 campaign and is also Asante’s eighth assist of the year. The captain is now the sole leader atop the assist charts in USL Championship.

PRFC forward and Jamaican international Junior Flemmings has been the biggest bright spot for his side this season.

Flemmings has scored in each game that Phoenix has found the back of the net in and continued that metric on Saturday night.

In the 68th minute, the Jamaican made a darting coast-to-coast run that modeled his lighting-quick pace and ended in a chip over the Las Vegas goalkeeper to make it 2-0 in Rising’s favor.

Flemmings has now scored 10 goals in just nine matches, which puts him alone atop the scoring charts for the USL Championship Golden Boot.

Asante was able to also get on the scoresheet in addition to his assist.

The Ghanaian converted from the penalty spot — something he has not done since 2019 — as the captain has deferred his penalty-taking duties to the likes of Jon Bakero and Dadashov this season.

And despite the keeper getting a hand to it, the shot proved to be a vital insurance goal.


Phoenix Rising gets a week’s rest before returning to action on Aug. 29 away to Reno 1868 FC.

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