First time for everything: Phoenix Rising FC picks up 1st win in San Antonio

Apr 2, 2022, 9:58 PM | Updated: 10:02 pm

Phoenix Rising FC captain Darnell Kings (left) and SAFC midfielder David Loera (right) play in a 2-...

Phoenix Rising FC captain Darnell Kings (left) and SAFC midfielder David Loera (right) play in a 2-0 PRFC win in San Antonio, Texas, on April 2, 2022. (San Antonio FC Photo)

(San Antonio FC Photo)

There’s a first time for everything, especially when it comes to Phoenix Rising FC this season.

PRFC came into Saturday night’s match away to San Antonio FC on the heels of back-to-back defeats, a first for Phoenix and manager Rick Schantz since October 2018.

And with a dominating 2-0 win over SAFC on the night, Rising not only won its first away game on the campaign, but Phoenix also won its first match in San Antonio in club history. The clean sheet also marks the first of the year for both PRFC and goalkeeper Ben Lundt.

The final “first” of the match came off the foot of forward Marcus Epps, who came off the bench to score his first goal in a Rising kit on his first shot of the season against his former team.

As he promised earlier in the week, Schantz made a multitude of changes to his starting XI, but not necessarily to his system.

Rising went out in its usual 4-3-3, with Greg Hurst playing as the left winger while Joey Calistri served on the opposite attacking flank in place of Santi Moar and Epps, respectively.

Phoenix’s trademark high-pressure tactic was back to its usual standards, as San Antonio struggled to create any real threatening chances despite having 45.9% possession. PRFC’s seven clearances, 11 interceptions, 69.2% tackle success rate and 66.7% aerial duels won played a large part in the team’s impressive defensive effort.

Rising also saw a noticeable increase in service and crosses into the box, a large majority of which came from the left side with left back and Valley native Ryan Flood starting at left back. Starting LB Babou Njie was out due to a lower-body injury.

Phoenix out-crossed San Antonio 23-10 and forced SAFC to clear the ball 31 times. PRFC also commanded the shots battle 21-5 (9-2 on target) while amassing six corners compared to only allowing one.

And despite San Antonio’s starting goalkeeper Cristian Bonilla retiring earlier in the week due to personal reasons, SAFC backup GK Jordan Farr was more than ready to take over in net.

Farr put in a Man of the Match-worthy performance with multiple quick-reaction saves, two of which denied Rising center back Joe Farrell from scoring via header.


– Center Back James Musa was out with a lower-body injury. The Kiwi missed the first two games of the season due to a hamstring issue.

– Midfielder Carlos Anguiano and Richmond Antwi made their PRFC debuts as substitutes in the second half.


Phoenix Rising hosts NISA newcomer and Mesa-based Valley United SC in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler at 7:30 p.m.

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