PHOENIX RISING FC

Rick Schantz eager to right Phoenix Rising’s ship: ‘It’s our Sparta moment’

May 27, 2022, 11:29 AM
Phoenix Rising FC manager Rick Schantz walks out of the tunnel prior to a USL Championship match ag...
Phoenix Rising FC manager Rick Schantz walks out of the tunnel prior to a USL Championship match against Tampa Bay Rowdies in at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona on May 15, 2022. (Owain Evans Photo)
(Owain Evans Photo)

Phoenix Rising FC manager Rick Schantz is eager to right the ship of his club, which has now lost three consecutive matches in all competitions.

PRFC’s last two losses have been somewhat embarrassing from a scoreline perspective, but there are a couple of caveats that go along with those defeats.

The first was the 5-1 home loss to Tampa Bay Rowdies on May 15, followed by a 7-0 thrashing away to New Mexico United on Tuesday.

However, the likes of starting midfielder Aodhan Quinn, starting midfielder/center back Kevon Lambert and starting center back James Musa have not been available in any of the last three matches due to injury.

And when you pair that with the fact that Phoenix had to play seven academy players — some of who graduated high school this week — in order to even field a team against New Mexico due to USL Championship’s COVID-19 protocols, it becomes evident as to why Rising has seen such a dramatic dip in form since going a perfect 6-0-0 in the month of April in all comps.

“I feel like it’s been very galvanizing for our fans, the front office, the players, the coaching staff. … It’s brought the group together,” manager Rick Schantz said Friday of the current predicament Phoenix Rising finds itself in.

“As I was told by a good friend, it’s our ‘Sparta’ moment. I told the players, ‘It’s just us. It’s just us together. You can’t look around for help. We have to solve this and we have to get after it.’ So I think they’re super excited to play.”

Schantz also provided an update on the injury front as it pertains to PRFC’s next match away to Hartford Athletic in Connecticut on Saturday at 4 p.m., including a possible return of Lambert and Musa.

In fact, the manager added that the club wants to see Lambert back in the midfield with the possible return of Musa and center back Joe Farrell coming back from a red card suspension.

“Kev does something for us not a lot of players in the USL can do. When we’re pressing high or we’re attacking high with wingers tucked in and both No. 10s getting involved, it kind of exposes you,” Schantz said. “But Lambert can really shut down a lot of counterattacks, he can intercept a lot of balls, he wins everything in the air. So he really helps protect the center backs as well.

“Getting Musa back would be paramount to that because then you have some athleticism paired with either Farrell or Manu (Madrid) for the toughness and grit. So you start to get your balance back and I think that’s what we’ve been missing.”

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Rick Schantz eager to right Phoenix Rising’s ship: ‘It’s our Sparta moment’