Prince Saydee saves a point for Phoenix Rising at the death vs. Orange County
CHANDLER, Ariz. — Phoenix Rising FC forward Prince Saydee saved a point for PRFC at the death against Orange County SC at Wild Horse Pass on Saturday night.
The Liberian’s first goal in a Rising kit came in the form of a 90+6th-minute equalizer as Phoenix drew OC 1-1 on the night.
— Phoenix Rising FC (@PHXRisingFC) August 15, 2021
“It’s my first goal at home and the first goal on the season and I’m kind of happy to score at home,” Saydee said postgame. “I was super excited because it was a saving goal for my team and it was amazing.
“I knew it [would be crossed to the back post] because (Ryan Flood) told me every time he when does a cross to just stay at the back post, so I was always expecting it.”
The point extends PRFC’s unbeaten streak to nine consecutive matches and was reminiscent of the 2-2 tie against San Diego Loyal SC back on June 5.
“The guys felt like the goal was just going to come but Orange County is really good,” Rising manager Rick Schantz said. “They’re very organized. They have some big guys in the middle. They make it difficult.
“I told the guys at halftime, it’s not about tactics or personnel, it was just about how badly either team wanted to win the game. I was pleased with our second half because we really went after it.”
Phoenix will feel unlucky to have not capitalized on its chances throughout the match, as Rising dominated possession at a 65% to 35% clip and outshot Orange County 27 (seven on target) to 10 (two).
“Possession means nothing. You must score goals in the game,” Schantz said. “There were way too many times when we broke their lines and then played negative.
“That’s not Phoenix Rising football. We have to be far more aggressive. I would have liked to have seen double the number of shots we had.”
OC’s lone goal on the night came via Mikko Kuningas’s shot from distance that was deflected past an off-balance Andre Rawls.
A look at Orange County’s goal.
— Jake Anderson (@jwa1994) August 15, 2021
Rawls also forced OC midfielder Ronaldo Damus to miss a one-on-one in the 59th minute that would’ve given Orange County a 2-0 advantage.
“At that point it’s a little bit of a mind game. It’s closing down the angle as much as you can,” Rawls said of the miss. “My positioning, I was out far so I was kind of ready for him to try to chip me. So in the back of my mind I’m ready to turn and run.
“But at the same time I’m kind of just trying to play games with him a little bit. Just picking my line of confrontation to stop, be big and force him to hit it around me. Overall — I’ll watch it back — but in the moment I was really happy with where I stopped and obviously forced him to put it wide.”
Schantz was without midfielder Jon Bakero due to an illness that is not COVID-19 related and started forward David Egbo at the No. 9 following the departure of Rufat Dadashov to FC Schalke 04 II on Thursday.
The Nigerian seemed to be out of sorts spacially at times, which may be a result of not regularly starting alongside wingers Solomon Asante and Santi Moar.
In the first half, Moar cut inside and played a ball for the overlapping run of left back Tate Schmitt, but Egbo also ran to the same space and took away an opportunity for the LB to play a more dangerous ball in for the striker.
Following the play, Moar was seen directing Egbo to remain near the edge of the six-yard area to receive a pass should the same play present itself later on in the match.
The continuity between the fullbacks and wingers was on full display on the night, as the likes of Darnell King also got in on the overlapping runs with Asante, but the final decisive ball from Phoenix was lacking.
“The big difference for me was when Noah Billingsley and Ryan Flood came into the game,” Schantz said. “I told them, ‘I don’t care if you defend at all. Just go, go, go.’
“I put Solomon [Asante] in as a No. 10. We needed to get someone in between their midfielders and just occupy that space so we could go wide.”
With the likes of El Paso Locomotive and San Diego also dropping points on the night, not much changes for Phoenix in the Western Conference standings.
PRFC remains atop the Pacific Division standings with an 11-point lead and a game in hand while El Paso stays atop the West with 38 points and even with Rising on 17 matches played.
Louisville City FC took the top spot in USL Championship with a victory on the night to reach 39 points, but has played an extra match (18).
Phoenix Rising will host Sacramento Republic FC next Saturday at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be audio broadcast live on ArizonaSports.com and on the Arizona Sports app.