Phoenix Rising FC can’t overcome Las Vegas ‘circus’ in loss to Lights FC

Mar 19, 2022, 10:23 PM | Updated: 11:41 pm

Phoenix Rising FC striker Claudio Repetto scored PRFC's lone goal in a 2-1 defeat at Cashman Field ...

Phoenix Rising FC striker Claudio Repetto scored PRFC's lone goal in a 2-1 defeat at Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 19, 2022. (Lights FC Photo).

(Lights FC Photo)

The house always wins in Sin City.

And while that may not be the case every time Phoenix Rising FC visits Las Vegas, it held true on Saturday night at Cashman Field.

In what was yet another circus-like atmosphere with pitchside beds, waving inflatable tube men, an MC and a llama, Lights FC held on to defeat PRFC 2-1 on the night.

Not to mention that the pitch was perhaps the worst it has ever been when these two sides have met at the makeshift baseball stadium.

“I’ve got to make a few phone calls. This is ridiculous,” PRFC manager Rick Schantz told reporters postgame. “As soon as the game ended, they turned the lights out. You got players fighting on the field, there’s guys running out there with flashlights. I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life.

“I asked the referees before the match to evaluate the field. They called it “safe.” We had a player (Manuel Madrid) slide off the field into a bed, a wood frame bed on the sideline. I can’t — this is unbelievable. I get it, it’s a circus. We all laugh when you come here and win games but now it sounds like sour grapes. I’m disappointed in our performance. We showed fight too little too late.”

Schantz made one change to his starting XI from Matchday 1’s 4-2 win over Monterey Bay F.C. The manager started Italian striker Claudio Repetto over Scottish forward Greg Hurst, the latter of whom bagged a goal and netted an assist in his Rising debut.

Repetto played the entirety of the 90 and scored Phoenix’s lone goal on the night. Hurst did not play due to a hamstring issue that Schantz told reporters postgame “wasn’t worth the risk.”

Saturday night’s match also saw the second consecutive absence of starting center back James Musa, who suffered a hamstring injury in the final preseason tuneup vs. FC Tucson on March 5.

The lack of Schantz’s No. 1 preferred CB may be part of the reason why Phoenix has given up two goals in each of its first two games this season. Musa’s ability on the ball as a former holding midfielder also gives PRFC another option to build up from the back, as well as delivering long balls over the top for in-behind runs.

Las Vegas executed its gameplan of sitting back, clogging the edge of the penalty area and trying to catch Phoenix on the counter to perfection.

“They didn’t try to play at all — defend and counter,” Schantz tweeted. “They had the first goal and were allowed to play as they wish. No excuses, just making the point that we need to be better prepared.”

Goalkeeper Tomas Romero and forwards Danny Musovski and Cal Jennings — who have all played for Lights’ parent club LAFC — led the way with the power, pace and skill that has them seeing minutes in MLS.

Rising really failed to test Romero, however, only mustering four shots on target out of 21 total and garnering 10 corners. The best saves of the night came on a defender’s goal line clearance off an Arturo Rodriguez attempted shot and Romero’s save of Aodhan Quinn’s free kick that hit the post and bounced off the goalkeeper for a corner.

“Not the result we wanted. We need to be resilient,” Schantz tweeted postgame. “We are lucky to play on one of the best fields in the US with the best fans and owners.

“No matter the environment or circus off the field, I need to prepare the team to respect our opponent and be mentally tougher.”


PRFC returns home to host rival San Diego Loyal SC next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler.

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