Phoenix Rising drops points after allowing late equalizer in Las Vegas

Aug 7, 2021, 11:48 PM | Updated: Aug 8, 2021, 10:52 am
Phoenix Rising midfielder Arturo Rodriguez speaks with the assistant referee during a 2-2 draw away...
Phoenix Rising midfielder Arturo Rodriguez speaks with the assistant referee during a 2-2 draw away to Lights on Aug. 7, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Owain Evans Photo)
(Owain Evans Photo)

Phoenix Rising dropped what would have been the club’s fifth consecutive win after allowing a late equalizer in a 2-2 draw on the road in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

With six minutes to go on the 90, Lights whipped a ball in from the side of the box that was blasted past PRFC goalkeeper Ben Lundt by Mohamed Traore after Rising center back Manuel Madrid fell down in the box on the cross in the 84th minute.

“Disappointed for sure. We’re expected to win that game and I think we should, so it’s disappointing,” PRFC midfielder Aodhan Quinn told Owain Evans. “I don’t know if it was the legs went, we got tired, there was a little too much space.

“That last goal there’s too much space and it ended up to an open guy, just finished well. But we just need to finish out games, be a little more professional and just finish out the game 2-1. We can’t have that. … We have to finish out that game. We’re Phoenix Rising, we have to win that game.”

“It’s frustrating. I think we did enough to win. We probably should have been a little bit better on our chances in the first half,” Phoenix Rising manager Rick Schantz told Owain Evans. “But at 2-1 on the road, you let a team hang around — we dropped too deep. I think the guys were really tired there at the end.

“It looked to me like their second goal was a foul. The guy pushed one of our players and then they got an open back-post shot, so who knows. I think all night long it was very inconsistent with the referees.”

A total of 24 fouls were called — 14 of which went against Phoenix — and six yellow cards were given out on the night which were evenly split by the two teams at three apiece.

However, Rising was awarded a penalty after Quinn played a ball in for Santi Moar, who was taken down by Lights goalkeeper Alex Rando.

The Spaniard stepped up and converted his 29th-minute spot-kick equalizer to bring the match’s scoreline to 1-1 and go level with captain Solomon Asante as the team’s leading goal scorer with eight.

Quinn put in yet another Man of the Match performance, as the midfielder had his hands — or feet — all over Phoenix’s two goals on the night.

After basically assisting Moar on his penalty — although not technically — the midfielder converted on a set piece of his own right on the halftime whistle for his fourth goal on the 2021 USL Championship campaign and third in as many matches.

“I actually talked to (goalkeeper coach) Corey (Robertson) before and he said just aim for the goal and hit it lower than the one previous and I said alright,” Quinn said. “I told Arturo (Rodriguez) I was going to score and luckily it went in.”

Madrid was making his Rising debut on the night, as Schantz was forced to start him in place of Joe Farrell, who was in Philadelphia for his brother’s wedding. The PRFC manager said Friday that the position is still his when he returns.

That lack of familiarity as a CB duo with James Musa might’ve played a part on Lights’ opening goal in the 12th minute, as Roberto Molina megged Phoenix’s Ryan Flood and Moar before Musa failed to step up and close down the space on the shot that made it 1-0 Las Vegas.

However, Musa took a peek back behind him during Molina’s run. The Mexican center back should have told the Kiwi to step to Molina, a communication error that can be fixed over time as players who may not be fluent in a common language get used to playing with each other.

“He looked a bit heavy at the beginning I think just getting his feet underneath him, he made a few mistakes but then very, very calm and strong I think in some of the defensive moments,” Schantz said. “He’s coming along. I really like him. I think he’s going to be a good defender for us.

“We do have to kind of work on a little bit more about how we want our center backs to play together — the communication is difficult at times. But I thought he was very good overall.”

Overall, a point on the road is never a bad thing. But the way in which the two points were dropped will feel more like a loss in Phoenix Rising’s dressing room.

PRFC still remains atop the Pacific Division standings with an 11-point lead and a game in hand over second-place Orange County, who comes to Wild Horse Pass next week for the first of four matchups between the two sides this season.

But due to El Paso winning its contest on the night, Locomotive now claims the No. 1 spot in USL Championship.

“We got a point on the road in a difficult environment with kiddie pools on the sidelines and people running on the field so I’m alright, we’ll take it,” Schantz said. “But we have a very good team. To be winning, 2-1, late in the game. We shouldn’t be giving up goals like that.”

“It’s pretty awesome man,” Schantz said of the traveling supporters. “… They love their team and I’m sorry we didn’t get three points for them tonight.”

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