Andre Rawls’ 9 stops saves a point for Phoenix Rising in scoreless draw
CHANDLER, Ariz. — Phoenix Rising FC goalkeeper Andre Rawls made a season-high nine saves in a 0-0 draw against Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night.
The nine stops mark the most for a Phoenix Rising GK on the 2021 USL Championship campaign, which keeps PRFC unbeaten (7W-3D-0L) at Wild Horse Pass.
“Defensively, we were unbelievable. Andre Rawls was fantastic,” Rising manager Rick Schantz said postgame. “I feel like I made the right decision tonight to give him the game and he stepped up.
“There were moments when we got a bit frustrated. We put our heads down. There were some second balls where we let them have opportunities. He saved our butts tonight. We all owe Andre a very big thank you. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
NEARLY AGAIN! pic.twitter.com/TAhLt8jkIB
— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) August 22, 2021
Phoenix held a 4-1 edge in corner kicks through the first 22 minutes of the match and produced three shots on goal while Sacramento had none.
The Republic’s first shot of the match came in the 28th minute following a foul by Rising center back James Musa 40 yards from goal. Dariusz Formella set up the chance for the visitors by playing a centering pass to the top of the box for Mario Penagos. Penagos turned to his right and struck a low, hard shot toward the near post but Rawls was in position to make a diving save to his right side to block the attempt.
Sacramento nearly went ahead two minutes into the second half when Penagos spun his defender at the top right corner of the area and blasted a shot toward the far post. Rawls looked back to track the shot and watched as it smacked off the woodwork, keeping the match tied at 0-0.
Rawls was tested again in the 53rd minute, making a diving save to his left side on a free kick taken by Formella from just outside the area.
— Phoenix Rising FC (@PHXRisingFC) August 22, 2021
Schantz tried to swing the tide with three substitutions in by the 62nd minute. Prince Saydee, Arturo Rodriguez and Joey Calistri — all of Phoenix’s available offensive options — were sent into the match with 28 minutes left to play.
“We didn’t shoot. It’s not that it’s not clicking, teams are playing with nine guys behind the ball,” Schantz said. “We’ve worked on it this week. We’re seeing five on the back line and we weren’t getting crosses in. We weren’t getting guys into the box. They weren’t committing. There were no cutbacks.
“When you get a team pinned back like that, you got to be willing to shoot. We’re looking for the perfect opportunity to score rather than just letting it rip. It’s something that hopefully with Darren [Mattocks] here, we’ll have an experienced forward. I think that he will take those chances. David still has to learn to be more dangerous. Overall, Solo [Asante], Santi [Moar], all the midfielders, when we start to struggle, they take too many touches. When we play slow and try to make it an individual game, we’re in trouble. We have to get back to two-touch and movement off the ball.”
Rawls made his seventh save of the night, slapping a hard shot from distance over the bar in the 80th minute and his eighth in the 83rd minute, setting up a chance for Rodriguez to score a game-winner in stoppage time.
“Exhausted. Tiring game, long game, frustrating game,” Rawls said. “We had our moments. We had strong moments. We were really good in the first half. We battled in the second half.
“We really wanted three points. We could have had three points there but at the end of the day, I’ll take the point. I’ll take the clean sheet. It was great work from the defense. We’ve got a tough week up ahead. We have to put this behind us and focus on Oakland on Wednesday.”
PRFC captain Asante was taken out of the match in the 52nd minute due to an apparent non-contact injury, which Schantz didn’t have an update on after the match.
Phoenix Rising hits the road to take on Oakland Roots SC on Wednesday night, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. Catch all the action on ArizonaSports.com or the Arizona Sports App.
Phoenix Rising FC contributed to this story.