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Rising FC’s Ivan Gutierrez: I feel like Phoenix is the best team in the West

(Twitter photo/@gutierrezi16)

It may only be the second week of December, but that hasn’t stopped Phoenix Rising FC from announcing three new player signings in the first week of the month alone.

The latest of those signees is former LA Galaxy II midfielder Ivan Gutierrez, who became PRFC’s 13th player on the roster ahead of the 2021 USL Championship campaign.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old’s reasoning for leaving a fellow USLC side for Phoenix was almost identical to that of his newest teammates Tobi Adewole and Aodhan Quinn, who both stressed just how good Rising FC is in this league.

“I feel that playing on the team now as Phoenix Rising, we have that desire to win again,” Gutierrez said.

“We have the desire to keep winning and I feel like the Western Conference is a tough league. I feel like it’s probably the top team in the conference in a way.”

Despite his position tag being a midfielder, the former Mexico U-17 international will most likely be deployed as either a winger or attacking midfielder, much like the way Joey Calistri was used in 2019.

“I feel like I’ll be used as a left wing or right wing,” Gutierrez said. “I feel like I’m capable of playing both positions.

“I’m fast on the ball, I’m quick. I feel like I can give a lot to the team, give a lot of assists, get a lot of goals — I feel like I can help out in that way.”

PRFC’s newest signee will be doing his offseason training in Guadalajara, Mexico, before officially moving to Phoenix for the start of preseason, which will most likely be closer to February with the 2021 season not starting until April or May.

Gutierrez likes to spend his offseasons abroad because he used to play there and still has friends he enjoys visiting.

In fact, Guadalajara was able to help him recover from an ACL injury that he suffered two months before the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile after Mexico’s U-17 National Team had won the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Honduras.

And now that he will be in Phoenix as a member of PRFC, the former Los Dos midfielder will have an opportunity to share his knowledge and ability within the Western Conference, which Gutierrez says he feels gave him the exposure needed for Rising to come calling for his signature.

“I’m going to stick to my gameplan,” he said. “I feel like Rick Schantz’s style of play is going to benefit me more because they’re an attacking team, they like pressing, they like having the ball and then attacking other teams. So I feel like it’s going to help me a lot and it’s probably going to help the team out.”

That attacking-style of play comes from the attacking trio of Santi Moar, Rufat Dadashov and Solomon Asante, the latter of which is the only back-to-back MVP and Assists Champion in USL Championship history.

“I feel like their experience is going to help me out a lot,” Gutierrez said of the front three. “The guys are older than me, so I feel with their experience and capability of what they show on the field, I feel they’re going to help me out and grow as a player. Hopefully I can give them assists, help them out up top and support the team.”

“I feel like this will be a new opportunity to show what I’m capable of,” he added. “And especially at a team like Phoenix, I feel like there’s a huge responsibility to play somewhere at a team like that that wins championships.”