Match Preview Presented by Northern Arizona University
Phoenix Rising (6-6-8) heads to Monterey Bay (7-8-6) to take on the Union Saturday at 7 p.m. on Arizona Family’s Sports & Entertainment Network and ESPN+.
These teams met earlier this season in Phoenix, producing a 1-1 draw at 38th St/Washington on April 15. Rising is coming off a rough, 4-0 loss to the No. 1 team in the West, Sacramento on Wednesday.
“Tonight was not good enough,” said Rising head coach Juan Guerra after the match. “Tonight doesn’t represent our ambitions. Tonight doesn’t represent the way we want to do things. We need to make sure we turn this around. Thankfully we get to turn the page quickly because we have another important game on Saturday night.”
For Guerra, the emphasis is on converting chances.
“It’s about being clinical,” he said. “Before [Sacramento] scored first, we had a chance we didn’t convert. After they scored the first, we had a chance to tie it and we didn’t. Sacramento went forward after that and did what they had to do. They’re a team that is doing very well this year. You cannot allow them to gain momentum like that. With their fans behind them at home, it becomes a very hostile place to be. We gave them way too many opportunities. They took advantage of them.”
That mentality could lead to another high scoring match in Monterey, like the one these teams produced last fall in California. Rising and Monterey Bay found the back of the net six times in a 3-3 draw on September 21, 2022.
Phoenix began the month with six goals at home in a drubbing of Memphis but followed that performance with a pair of losses and a draw. Monterey Bay won four straight in June, but followed that with a 0-4-1 run thus far in July. For Guerra, only one outcome will do for Phoenix in Monterey Bay this weekend.
“We have to win on Saturday,” he said. “No other result is good for us. We built the team for this. We built the team understanding it would take time and it would be turbulent until we find consistency. I want to see the character of this team. How do we bounce back?”