Phoenix Rising FC defender and Captain Darnell King announced today that he will be transitioning into a coaching role with the club for the 2024 season.
“I’ve been lucky enough to do this for 12 years,” said King. “Raising the USL Championship trophy over my head was an amazing way to cap off my playing career. I’ve had so many great memories over the years with all the teammates and friends that have come and gone. The experience has been nothing short of amazing.”
King, 33, started just twice for Phoenix through the opening 16 league matches of 2023, but found his form in concert with a side that went on the claim the USL Championship. The defender earned 17 starts in the final 22 matches of the season, leading the team to a 9-5-4 record in those games. Rising outscored opponents 33-21 in King’s final 17 matches, earning four shutouts and allowing just 0.80 goals per game.
“I’m very excited to transition into a coaching role with Rising,” said King. “To be able to stick around the game and continue doing something I love… I am so fortunate for what the game has given me over the years. I can’t wait to use that experience as a coach – to help the club continue with the success it has enjoyed the last seven seasons. ”
King initiated the process of obtaining his U.S. Soccer Federation “B” License during the 2023 USL Championship season. He even attended Zoom calls during Phoenix’s time in Charleston for the 2023 Championship match in November. The course work for the license is expected to conclude in April.
King spent the last four seasons of his playing career with Rising, racking up 110 appearances across all competitions with four goals and five assists. Defensively, he led Phoenix in tackles won (37) in 2020 and in clearances 110 during the 2021-22 seasons.
“Darnell played an integral role in helping this club achieve a goal it had been chasing for seven seasons,” said Phoenix Rising FC President Bobby Dulle. “His dedication on and off the pitch the past four seasons made him an ideal candidate to step into a leadership role as an assistant coach. I look forward to seeing him grow in his new role, where he can use his experience to lead this franchise to continued success.”
Prior to joining Phoenix, King spent the 2019 season with Nashville SC. He picked up one assist in 21 matches, helping Nashville to the top defensive performance in the USL Championship that season by allowing just 26 goals. King spent the 2018 season with San Antonio FC, where he scored twice with four assists in 32 matches. His 2017 season was spent with his hometown team, Tampa Bay.