Phoenix Rising claims top spot in USL Championship with win in San Diego

Jul 24, 2021, 11:30 PM | Updated: 11:31 pm
Phoenix Rising midfielder Jon Bakero (left) battles San Diego Loyal midfielder Alejandro Guido (rig...
Phoenix Rising midfielder Jon Bakero (left) battles San Diego Loyal midfielder Alejandro Guido (right) during PRFC's 1-0 win at Torero Stadium in San Diego, California, on July 24, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC)
(Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC)

Phoenix Rising FC did something on Saturday night that no team has been able to do in San Diego on the 2021 USL Championship campaign.

PRFC defeated Loyal SC 1-0 to take all three points from Landon Donovan’s side at Torero Stadium and end the club’s nine-game unbeaten streak.

The win also marks the first Phoenix victory in San Diego in 90 minutes after Loyal forfeited a match in 2020 despite holding a 2-0 at the time.

Despite San Diego possessing 71% of the ball and outpassing PRFC 668-271 with a passing accuracy advantage of 85% to 69%, Loyal could not even muster one shot on target throughout the entirety of the 90 minutes.

Those metrics prove the game’s old adage of it’s not how much possession one team has, but what that team does with the possession it has with the ball.

Phoenix Rising capitalized on its time with the ball, outshooting San Diego 18-5 with a shots on target advantage of 6-0.

For the second straight week, the goalscoring came not from PRFC’s attacking trio, but rather the center back duo of Joe Farrell and James Musa.

In just the ninth minute of the match, Farrell headed a corner kick back across the face of goal where Musa was waiting to poke the ball across the line to give Rising the lone goal on the night and bring the game to its final scoreline of 1-0 in PRFC’s favor.

Phoenix Rising manager Schantz made two changes to his starting XI following the 5-0 thrashing of LA Galaxy II last Saturday night.

Despite keeping a clean sheet, goalkeeper Ben Lundt and left back Ryan Flood were replaced by Andre Rawls and Tate Schmitt, respectively.

The match also marks the 100th career appearance in a PRFC kit for captain Solomon Asante, who becomes the first player in club history to achieve the feat.

“I was celebrating after we won the game and I told Juan (Guerra), we’re not celebrating because we beat San Diego on the road — that’s just three points. We go again, right? We’re celebrating because our first 100,” Schantz said as he gave Asante a commemorative No. 100 jersey while the team mobbed the captain in the locker room.

With the victory, PRFC now sits alone atop the league standings with 29 points in 13 matches played (9W-2D-2L) and has a seven-point lead in the Pacific Division with a game in hand.

El Paso Locomotive (12 matches played) and Rio Grande Valley (12 games played) are even on points at 25 apiece in the Mountain Division, while Tampa Bay Rowdies and Louisville City are currently tied for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 spot with 27 points over 14 games played apiece.

“The love is deep deeper. I really appreciate it. It has never been easy but together Phoenix Rising, we achieved it: teammates, coaches, fans, management, board and directors,” Asante tweeted after the match.


Phoenix Rising returns home to host RGV at Wild Horse Pass next Saturday night.

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


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