PHOENIX RISING FC

Phoenix Rising earns all 3 points on Oakland’s turf, takes No. 1 spot in USLC

Aug 4, 2021, 10:51 PM | Updated: 11:22 pm
Phoenix Rising celebrates a 1-0 win over Oakland Roots at Laney College on Aug. 4, 2021. (Twitter P...
Phoenix Rising celebrates a 1-0 win over Oakland Roots at Laney College on Aug. 4, 2021. (Twitter Photo/@PHXRisingFC)
(Twitter Photo/@PHXRisingFC)

Phoenix Rising earned a well-deserved three points in a 1-0 victory over Oakland Roots in the first match played on the new turf surface at Laney College Field on Wednesday night.

The win puts PRFC back atop all of USL Championship with the most points of any team with 35.

Phoenix’s stellar run of form continues, as Rising is now 6W-1D-0L in its last seven games (four straight wins) and is pulling away from the rest of the competition with a league-best +25 goal differential. The next-best in USLC is Lousiville City at +14.

PRFC did not allow a single shot on target on the night en route to its fourth clean sheet in that span and seventh on the 2021 campaign to boast a tie for the most in the league with El Paso Locomotive, who is also the only club in USL Championship to allow fewer goals than Phoenix with just 10 conceded compared to Rising’s 11.

Phoenix Rising manager Rick Schantz made three changes to his starting XI, replacing goalkeeper Andre Rawls, midfielder Jon Bakero and forward David Egbo in place of Ben Lundt, Arturo Rodriguez and Rufat Dadashov, respectively.

The Matchday 18 also featured newly acquired Mexican center back Manuel Madrid, but the former Cruz Azul defender did not make his Rising debut on the night.

With the uncertainty of how the pitch would play — which consisted of six 75-by-25-yard strips velcroed to a platform and described as a “gymnastics floor” — it took about 20-25 minutes for Phoenix Rising to settle in and get a grip on the match.

Oakland came out in the first half with the bulk of possession, but didn’t apply that much pressure in defence by electing to stay compact, offer PRFC time on the ball and force Rising to break Roots down.

The first half left much to be desired as both sides were only able to muster a combined one shot on target off a total of six attempts, four of which came from PRFC.

Rising had slightly more possession (54%) in the opening 45 minutes while corners were split evenly at two apiece. Passing accuracy was also low for both teams, with Phoenix leading that category with 73% on 197 completed passes compared to Oakland’s 68% on 172 passes.

The lone shot on net was nearly the opening goal of the match off the foot of Phoenix Rising winger Santi Moar in the 45th minute, but was saved by a diving stop from Oakland goalkeeper Zeus de la Paz — who was Roots’ Man of the Match on the night with three crucial saves and some big clearances.

Phoenix came out firing in the second 45 minute-frame, finishing with a total of 10 shots (three on target) compared to Oakland’s five attempts. PRFC also finished with 52% possession and six corners compared to Roots’ 48% and three corner kicks.

One of Rising’s off-target shots included Aodhan Quinn’s shot form distance that clipped the crossbar on its way over, thus not technically counting as a shot on net.

But PRFC finally got the breakthrough with the lone goal on the night coming in the 64th minute from Quinn thanks to some sublime passing that started with center back Joe Farrell, who continues his stellar run of form to solidify his place in Schantz’s starting XI.

The Philadelphia native played a long ball in for captain Solomon Asante, who passed it up to David Egbo at the top of the box after it was dumbied by Moar and then left by the Nigerian for Quinn to slot into the back of the net to make it 1-0 in Rising’s favor.

The combination-play goal marks the second in as many games from Phoenix, proving to opposing teams that PRFC has the ability to break down teams that try to play either in a low block and/or in a compact defensive shape.

With Rising’s next match marking the official halfway point for the club on the 2021 season (game No. 16 of 32), the team currently has the biggest divisional lead in USLC with 10 points and a game in hand on second-place Orange County (25 points) and third-place San Diego Loyal (24 points) in the Pacific Division.

However, El Paso — who has the second-most points in the league with 34 — is even on matches played with PRFC and will continue to push the club for the top spot in the Western Conference, as well as home-field advantage in the playoffs.

EXTRA TIME

Phoenix Rising No. 6 Kevon Lambert and Schantz both made their 100th appearances for PRFC, marking the second player and only third member of the club to accomplish that feat in team history after Asante did it earlier this season.

UP NEXT

Phoenix will cap off the two-game road trip away to Las Vegas Lights on Saturday night.

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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Phoenix Rising earns all 3 points on Oakland’s turf, takes No. 1 spot in USLC