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Early miscue the difference in Phoenix Rising’s loss to Tampa Bay Rowdies

Phoenix Rising FC center back Tobi Adewole (right) in a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium in Florida on May 15, 2021. (PRFC Photo)

Phoenix Rising FC’s perfect start to the 2021 USL Championship has come to an end.

PRFC lost 2-1 on Saturday night to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium in Florida in what was a rematch of the 2020 Final that never was.

“A tough loss to a very good opponent. We learned a ton about our team. We will work hard to improve and be ready to move forward,” manager Rick Schantz tweeted after the game.

Both clubs came into the contest having taken six points out of six to begin their respective seasons, with every victory coming by three goals and Tampa having yet to allow a goal in 2021.

And despite Phoenix still not having allowed a shot on target in the first half in 2021 — including Saturday night — Rising managed to find itself down 1-0 inside the opening four minutes of the match.

The horrid start was a rather unlucky one for PRFC, as midfielder Aodhan Quinn was rushing back to defend a cross across the box, but accidentally hit the ball into his own net on the attempted sliding clearance.

The early goal didn’t result in a gameplan change for either side, as both Phoenix and Tampa Bay continued to trade blows in an end-to-end game that featured a total of 30 shots and 16 corners.

The Rowdies won the shot battle 19 (three on target) to Rising’s 11 (three on target), while the duo split the corner count evenly at eight apiece.

The halftime score of 1-0 in Tampa’s advantage didn’t really dictate what could have been either, with both sides completely missing the target on shots from inside the penalty area.

Rising would see its possession go up substantially in the second half, but that was largely due to the Rowdies taking a 2-0 lead just 15 minutes into the second 45-minute frame.

Goalkeeper Ben Lundt made a fantastic point-blank save — Tampa’s first shot on target of the night — that led to a corner.

Lundt once again made a great save on the ensuing ball sent in, but unfortunately for Phoenix, the rebound was buried home by Tampa Bay’s Steevan Dos Santos.

The Rowdies would then drop into a low block and allow Rising to attempt to break down the defense while in possession.

But in the 68th minute, it was another James Musa longball from the back that was flicked on by striker Rufat Dadashov and rifled into the back of the net by PRFC winger Santi Moar — the Spaniard’s third goal in as many games on the 2021 USLC campaign.

There were a few penalty shouts on both sides — namely one on Phoenix captain Solomon Asante — but none were called and Prince Saydee was even shown a yellow card for simulation.

A total of eight cautions were issued between both clubs on the night, with Rising taking home five. Dadashov and Tampa Bay goalkeeper Evan Louro were both shown a yellow after a squirmish following Moar’s goal.

And just moments after the final whistle, the Spaniard and Rowdies manager Neill Collins were seen having a go at each other.

“Tough night against a very competitive team. At the end of the day it’s on us to learn how to deal with these situations and get results even in this type of environments. Rest assured that we will. Long season ahead & we are back at home next week,” Moar tweeted after the game.

UP NEXT

Phoenix Rising will return home to Wild Horse Pass to host Pacific Division opponent Las Vegas Lights FC on May 22.

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


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