PHOENIX RISING FC

Phoenix Rising rains on Los Dos’ parade with clean sheet victory

Jul 3, 2021, 11:53 PM
Phoenix Rising FC's Tate Schmitt (#25) scores off a corner kick against LA Galaxy II at Wild Horse ...
Phoenix Rising FC's Tate Schmitt (#25) scores off a corner kick against LA Galaxy II at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Ariz. on July 3, 2021. (Owain Evans Photo)
(Owain Evans Photo)

CHANDLER, Ariz. — Fireworks weren’t the only thing falling from the sky at Wild Horse Pass on Saturday night.

Rain was also falling from the heavens in addition to persistent winds that Phoenix Rising FC was forced to play against in the first half.

But that didn’t prevent PRFC from defeating LA Galaxy II 3-0 in front of 8,815 fans to extend Phoenix’s winning streak over Los Dos to 11 consecutive victories.

“We had won the coin toss and we picked that end because during warmup the wind was blowing the other way, but true to form it changed directions on us and usually you want to be going with whatever the advantage is in the first half,” Phoenix Rising manager Rick Schantz said postgame.

“I think the guys handled it fairly well, but both teams have to play in the conditions so I told them no excuses.”

But despite not being able to kick a single goal kick long in the first half due to rain, Phoenix was incredibly effective on set pieces both offensively and defensively.

Phoenix bagged its first goal of the night to make it 1-0 just 19 minutes into the match off an Aodhan Quinn corner kick that was side-footed in by Valley native Tate Schmitt, his second goal in as many games at Wild Horse Pass.

“I love that Darnell (King) and Tate both want to get up on corner kicks, so when it’s from one side we let Tate go,” Schantz said. “When it’s on the other side, Darnell gets to go.

“Tate’s aggressive, he’s got a good eye for the ball, he understands where it’s coming from and that was a good finish.”

Schantz was forced to make a change to his back four due to a hamstring strain that center back Joe Farrell picked up in training midweek that kept him out of the Matchday 18.

But other than that, PRFC’s gaffer was able to retain the same starting XI that picked up all three points away to Sacramento Republic FC last week.

“[We were] good enough. I thought we were a little sloppy in the first half, but I think it was a 30-40 mph headwind that we were playing into,” Schantz said. “I thought the guys played very well. David Egbo was fantastic for us in the first half.

“I was pretty upset with them because I didn’t think they were working extremely hard, but they were all saying it was really hard running into the wind so they were exhausted.”

Phoenix outshot LA 12-9 in the first half, with PRFC having the advantage in shots on target at 5-2. However, Rising could have easily been up 2-0 or 3-0 at halftime if the likes of captain Solomon Asante and David Egbo would have finished their point-blank chances.

“I told them they had no choice in the second half but to start fast,” Schantz added. “You gotta love it when they do that.”

Phoenix Rising did just that.

Within 60 seconds of the second half whistle, it was Schmitt on the ball sending in a cross for Asante. And after the Ghanaian had missed a similar chance in the first half, the captain made no mistake and buried his chance to put Rising up 2-0.

“I thought the midfield had a lot more time than they thought and once we started to use Kevon Lambert a little more in possession we were very good,” Schantz said.

In the 66th minute, Phoenix put the game to bed with what was Santi Moar’s last touch on the night.

After stealing the ball at midfield, the Spaniard found himself one-on-one with the Los Dos goalkeeper Justin Vom Steeg, who was caught in no man’s land just inside the 18-yard box. Moar cooly and calmly chipped the ball over Steeg for his seventh goal on the 2021 USL Championship campaign and to bring the match to its final scoreline of 3-0 in Rising’s favor.

Defensively, it was a masterclass from PRFC goalkeeper Andre Rawls on a windy night and a wet pitch. Rawls made six saves on 19 shots and defended against 11 corners en route to capturing his first clean sheet of the year and the fourth of the season for Phoenix.

“It’s not easy that’s for sure. The wind picked up, it was kind of going all different directions,” Rawls said. “At the start of the game, it was going right to left then pretty much right after the ref blew the whistle, it started coming right at our face.

“So it’s tough, you kind of have to adjust your gameplan a little bit, but the guys were there. The guys are always there to support us and help make my job a little easier. I just have to be ready. I think that was a group effort to be there and we kept a clean sheet, so that was huge.”

UP NEXT

Phoenix Rising travels away to Charlotte Independence for a Saturday matchup with the Eastern Conference opponent.

Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m. Arizona time and will be audio broadcast live on ArizonaSports.com and on the Arizona Sports app.

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