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Phoenix Rising captain Solomon Asante named to Team of the Week

Phoenix Rising FC forward and captain Solomon Asante against Oakland Roots SC at Wild Horse Pass on May 8, 2021. (Owain Evans Photo)

Another week, another honor for Phoenix Rising FC.

PRFC captain and forward Solomon Asante was named to USL Championship’s Week 3 Team of the Week on Tuesday.

The Ghanaian scored his first two goals on the 2021 campaign — the eighth brace of his Rising career — completed 26 of 33 passes (79%) and won six of seven duels en route to a 3-0 win over Oakland Roots SC.

Asante’s weekly honor also marks both the fourth overall and fourth different player to be recognized by the league in back-to-back weeks after Phoenix completed just its second match of the season.

The captain joins forward Santi Moar and midfielders Kevon Lambert and Jon Bakero on the list of PRFC players to receive Team of the Week honors on the year.

On Monday, manager Rick Schantz told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf about the impact that Asante has both on and off the pitch as the captain of the team.

“He’s got the biggest heart of any player I’ve coached, extremely intelligent and one heck of a leader. … He wants to build a culture,” Schantz said. “We talk before the game and Solo usually gets the last few words before we get in our team huddle in the locker room and he says it’s a new generation and a new stadium and we’re not going to lose here.

“I look at all the players and they look him in the eye and they follow him. It’s a massive impact when you have a player like that in your locker room and on the field. He’s like a brother or a son to me and I feel really close to the guy.”

A new wrinkle that’s been evident in Schantz’s high-pressing system this season has been the amount of effort put in on defense from more attacking-minded players that you wouldn’t normally expect to see drop back as much when Phoenix isn’t in possession.

Not that Rising’s front three wasn’t running back before, but at times this year, the likes of Asante and Bakero have dropped back as far as the back four when needed to cover for teammates who may be out of position after pushing up on the attack.

“When it’s 120 degrees in Arizona and they’re working as hard as they do, that’s kind of an easy barometer of how big their heart is,” Schantz said. “… It’s that moment when the crowd is going crazy, you’re down one, it’s the 90th minute and you have to make an 80-90-yard sprint — this is what Solo does.

“In our last game against Oakland, we were winning and at the very end, somebody had gone down and they played a ball in the corner and you see Solo was sprinting back to play a different position just to help us defend and make sure that we got the shutout. That was all I needed to see.”


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