Phoenix Rising loses control of home-field advantage after loss to OC

Oct 13, 2021, 10:21 PM | Updated: 10:23 pm
(Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC)...
(Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC)
(Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC)

Phoenix Rising FC dropped a 1-0 decision away to Orange County SC on Wednesday night at Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine, California.

Starting at center back in place of Joe Farrell — in addition to five other changes to the starting XI — was Manuel Madrid, who came up huge defensively in just the third minute of the match.

Orange County’s Eric Calvillo had a free look at goal without Andre Rawls in it after Rising’s goalkeeper charged off his line to stop an initial shot to his left side. The rebound fell to Calvillo in the center of the area and he attempted to pick out the top corner of the goal, but Madrid read the attacker and made a diving save with his head, knocking the ball clear of the post to push Rising’s shutout streak to 183 minutes.

The shutout streak ended at 198 minutes when Orange County took a 1-0 lead after a ball was slipped into the area from the left flank to Sean Okoli. The striker turned and got off a half-shot that tricked towards the back post. Ben Mines was first to react for OC as he grabbed the loose ball, cut around Rawls and deposited the ball in the back of the net to give the home side a lead in the 18th minute.

Rawls made a key save on Okoli from close range to keep it a 1-0 game in the 58th minute. The goalkeeper stood his ground at the near post and got his hands up in time to send a high-powered shot out for a corner kick.

Santi Moar came off the bench to create some offense for PRFC in the second half. Phoenix’s leader in goals cracked a hard shot on net from distance in the 85th minute but Orange County goalkeeper Patrick Rakovsky was able to punch the chance away before his defense ushered the rebound away from danger.

Darnell King nodded a pass to Aodhan Quinn a few steps in front of goal in stoppage time. Quinn redirected the shot on goal but Rakovsky made a stellar save to push the shot wide of the goal and give Orange County all three points.

“We did not start very well,” manager Rick Schantz tweeted after the match. “The remainder of the game we were very good but lacked quality in the final pass/shot. We will learn and improve. We must stay together and remember what these young men have accomplished so far. Focus is only on one game, nothing else.”

PRFC now gives up the right to control its own destiny for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs — including the USL Championship Final — as Rising sits on 62 points with three matches remaining while Tampa Bay Rowdies has 61 points and four games left on the docket.


Phoenix Rising travels away to Las Vegas Lights FC for the final road match of the regular season on Saturday afternoon.

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. Catch the audio stream on or the Arizona Sports app.

Phoenix Rising FC contributed to this story.

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