Golden Boot contender recorded five goals, two assists in August as Rising FC moved into top-four contention
Phoenix Rising FC forward Danny Trejo was announced as the USL Championship’s Player of the Month for August on Thursday, earning the honor after an exceptional month in which he recorded five goals and two assists that helped drive Rising FC into contention for a top-four finish in the Western Conference.
The award is the second of Trejo’s career, having previously been named Player of the Month in March, 2022 while competing for Las Vegas Lights FC. The 25-year-old made the move to Phoenix this offseason and has been part of the highest scoring attacking tandem in the league this season alongside this past June’s Player of the Month Manue Arteaga.
The duo has currently combined for 29 goals, with Trejo’s 15 tallies and Arteaga’s 14 marking only the second time in the Championship’s history two players have recorded at least 14 goals for the same club in a single season. In helping drive the club toward a return to the postseason, Trejo and Arteaga also have a friendly rivalry when it comes to which might claim the Golden Boot at the end of the season.
“Having a teammate in the Golden Boot race motivates me,” said Trejo. “I know I have a good opportunity to reach a personal goal of mine. At the same time, I know there are tough games remaining and it is going to take hard work to get those wins. That’s the most important thing for me, that the team wins. We know where we want to be and we’re working hard to achieve our goals as a team, but if the Golden Boot does come my way, I’ll be very happy.”
Trejo’s 15 goals overall this season have surpassed his total with Lights FC a season ago while moving him to 33 goals in 71 regular season games in his career overall. His strike rate this season of a goal every 144.5 minutes is the best of his career and has moved Phoenix into fifth place currently in the West with six games to go in the regular season.
That’s been aided by the defensive work Trejo and his fellow attacking teammates have also developed, with the side’s ability to create turnovers and spring forward quickly providing the impetus for its current run of success.
“We hear it a lot from Coach [Juan Guerra], ‘playing good defense will lead to offense,’” said Trejo. “I agree. We improved a lot on defense recently. We’ve done it at a time where we really needed it. We’re challenging to get a home playoff game and then make a run in the postseason. It’s very important to us. I’m glad we have been able to play well defensively and that it has created opportunities for us on offense.”
After Rising FC missed the postseason for the first time since the 2017 season, when the club’s ownership change provided a pivotal moment in its on-field fortunes, Trejo and the group led by Head Coach Juan Guerra now have their sights firmly fixed on making a deep postseason run and adding to the club’s silverware.
“Coach has said it all year, rebuilding a team takes time,” said Trejo. “It has taken a lot of hard work from all of us all season. The team is combining well now. We worked through things and have really come together as one in the last couple weeks. What we need to do now is just keep working, keep being better collectively and hopefully we can accomplish our goals.”
Trejo received 42 percent of a weighted poll that included the USL Championship Technical Committee, a national panel of independent media representing every USL market and an online fan vote held at USLChampionship.com. Birmingham Legion FC forward Neco Brett finished second on 23 percent after a month in which he led the league with six goals, moving into double-digits for the season for the fourth time in his career.