Jack Blake’s 2 ‘worldies’ sink Phoenix Rising in San Diego

Jun 20, 2021, 5:50 AM
Phoenix Rising FC midfielder Kevon Lambert traps the ball against Loyal SC at Torero Stadium in San...
Phoenix Rising FC midfielder Kevon Lambert traps the ball against Loyal SC at Torero Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on June 19, 2021. (Ashley Orellana Photo)
(Ashley Orellana Photo)

Phoenix Rising FC and San Diego Loyal SC have created a unique rivalry in their short history against each other in the USL Championship.

And not to dismiss the elephant in the room, but what happened at Torero Stadium on Sept. 30 last season will forever be engrained between these two Western Conference foes.

Saturday night in San Diego was the latest edition of the series, with Loyal holding on this time to beat Rising 2-1 on the night after jumping out to another 2-0 lead.

This time around, there would be no stoppage time comeback at the hands — or feet — of PRFC’s Joey Calistri, who wasn’t even among the Matchday 18 on the night.

“I actually thought we did well. I thought the guys were fantastic. They stuck to the gameplan,” Phoenix Rising manager Rick Schantz told Owain Evans postgame. “The problem is when you play a little conservative, if you make a mistake and you don’t train properly, you get punished like that then you have to come out.

“I think for us to play that way, we’re not used to it. But I thought that the guys did an excellent job. We showed that we have the ability to close the middle down a little bit, they showed some danger. After the second goal, I was really pleased with the tempo of the game.”

Phoenix outshot San Diego 21-6, with seven Rising shots being on target compared to Loyal’s four.

However, it was the quality of the strikes on the chances created that was the difference on the night.

Of the six saves SD goalkeeper Trey Muse made, most of them came on shots fired right at him.

On the other side of the pitch stood Rising’s GK Ben Lundt, who made a diving save early on in the match, but was unable to stop Blake’s two goals from eerily similar spots from his goal in Phoenix on June 5.

“There was nothing going wrong, they scored two worldies,” Schantz said. “The first one was the first time that both Kev (Lambert) and Aodhan (Quinn) got switched on sides and I think Blake got in behind Kev and then smashes a ball in the side net.

“We had already talked about that space but I thought we really nullified him and kind of shut it down early, but that’s what happens, you know.”

The match completely changed 15 minutes into the second half following Blake’s brace, as Schantz made three attack-minded substitutions at the same time in midfielder Arturo Rodriguez and forwards Prince Saydee and David Edgo, who was making his Rising debut.

All three changes proved to pay dividends less than 10 minutes after coming on.

Cutting inside on his right foot, Saydee found Egbo near the penalty spot — who had his shot saved by Muse — but Rodriguez was there to pounce on the rebound for Rising’s lone goal on the night.

“When we gave up the second goal, we made three changes immediately. We changed our approach a little bit,” Schantz said. “I think at that point San Diego was content with 2-0 and they gave the game to us. So for us to get the goal was huge.

“I’m a little disappointed about 80-90 (minutes), we just started hoofing it in the box and that’s not who we are. I think we kind of lost our minds a little bit and we got caught up with trying to get behind them in a direct fashion and we couldn’t find the second goal.”


Schantz on tempers flaring near the end of the match:

“We have to keep our cool. When teams start to behave like that and former players (Ben Spencer) are just being ridiculous on the field, the faking of injuries and the falling down. Four players went after Arturo there at the end in a tackle — like vicious, vicious. And then they managed to have two of them get hurt when Arturo flies out of bounds.

“So I think the referee was taken advantage of. I mentioned it to him that he has to be strong in that moment, you have to tell them that the more they do this the more we’re going to play. [San Diego’s antics] are unprofessional.”


Phoenix Rising travels away to Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday for the second time in four weeks.

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. and will be audio broadcast live on and on the Arizona Sports app.


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Jack Blake’s 2 ‘worldies’ sink Phoenix Rising in San Diego