Kevon Lambert returns as Phoenix Rising signs 2 midfielders

Dec 23, 2021, 7:50 PM | Updated: Jan 24, 2022, 1:47 pm

You can relax Phoenix Rising fans, Kevon Lambert is coming back.

PRFC announced on Wednesday that the Jamaican midfielder has been re-signed to a two-year deal that will keep him in the Valley through the 2023 USL Championship season.

“I’m super excited to re-sign with Phoenix Rising,” Lambert said in a press release. “We have set goals and we want to continue to work towards bringing the USL Championship to the city of Phoenix. I can’t wait to be back home with the best fans in the league for 2022.”

Phoenix Rising also signed another midfielder in Carlos Anguiano earlier this week, marking the club’s fourth new addition since Dec. 9.

Lambert is PRFC’s longest-tenured player after signing in August of 2017 and is the club’s all-time leader with 123 appearances across all competitions.

In his time in the Valley, the Jamaican has compiled 11 goals and notched eight assists as a No. 6 and No. 8 midfielder.

After leading Phoenix in tackles (59) and duels won (118) as a 21-year-old in 2018, Lambert has led Rising in interceptions since 2019 with 185 in his career in a PRFC kit. And since the start of the 2017 season — which Lambert didn’t play in until August — he is tied for fifth in all of USL Championship in tackles won at 183 with a success rate of 69.9%.

The Jamaican international — who has made 13 appearances for his country — is coming off of a 2021 campaign in which he finished second in the league with 238 duels won and was one of only eight players across USLC to pass the 200 mark on the year. His consistency on the pitch has made him a staple for manager Rick Schantz, who admitted Lambert is one of, if not, the first name he writes down for his starting XI.

“I feel strongly that Kevon Lambert is the best defensive midfielder in the USL,” Schantz said in the release. “His athleticism and range make him such a force in the middle.

“Kevon’s ability to dominate games helps us play the way we do. He is one of the most influential players we have ever had at Phoenix. I can’t be more excited to extend his stay here and continue to help him develop into one the best midfielders in North America.”

Anguiano, 22, comes to Phoenix from Tacoma Defiance, who is no longer competing in USL Championship as it moves to the MLS NEXT Pro league.

The midfielder has spent the last five seasons in USLC with MLS II sides Portland Timbers II from 2017-20 and Tacoma last season. In 78 regular-season appearances (62 starts), he has scored a total of five goals, notched nine assists and created 99 chances over 5,844 minutes played.

“Carlos is an extremely versatile midfielder,” Schantz said in a press release. “He’s another player who can break down, pressure and keep possession in tight spaces.

“At just 22 years old, Carlos already has 77 appearances in USLC. He understands what it takes and has shown to be an impact player at this level. With the addition of Carlos, we have a very good balance of youth, experience and talent heading into the 2022 season.”

After making only 13 appearances for T2 across all competitions in his first two years, Anguiano had a break-out season as a 19-year-old in 2019. That year featured two goals and five assists in 22 matches (21 starts) to go along with an 88.9% passing accuracy rate which saw him named to the USL 20 Under 20 list.

The midfielder followed that campaign up with an 87.6% passing accuracy rate in his final season in Portland before 2021 saw him score three goals and notch two assists for Tacoma. In his only year in a Defiance kit, Anguiano played over 2,000 minutes with a passing accuracy clip of 88.4%.

“My agent reached out to me to let me know Phoenix was interested and for me, it was a very quick yes,” he said in the release. “I could not let this opportunity go.

“Rising is very positive in the way they play. They love attacking actions and they like to press as soon as they lose the ball — dictating the play as much as possible. I love that style of play and feel like I will fit well within the system.”

Phoenix Rising now has 19 players signed to its roster ahead of the 2022 USL Championship season. However, the biggest unknown remaining is the status of back-to-back MVP in 2019-20 and captain Solomon Asante, as the 31-year-old Ghanaian forward remains a free agent.

Goalkeeper: Lalo Delgado

Fullbacks: Joey Calistri, Ryan Flood, Darnell King, Baboucarr “Babou” Njie

Center backs: Niall Dunn, Joe Farrell, Manuel Madrid, James Musa

Midfielders: Carlos Anguiano, Ivan Gutierrez, Kevon Lambert, Jonathan Levin, Aodhan Quinn, Arturo Rodriguez, Luis Seijas

Forwards: Richmond Antwi, Marcus Epps, Santi Moar

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Kevon Lambert returns as Phoenix Rising signs 2 midfielders