Match Preview Presented by Northern Arizona University
Phoenix Rising FC (8-7-8) heads to Rio Grande Valley (6-7-10) this Saturday, August 19 (5 p.m. on ESPN+ and AFSEN) for a showdown between the Western Conference’s seventh and ninth place teams. Rising won big last weekend, 5-0, against El Paso to leapfrog the Texas side. Phoenix will look to do it again this weekend, on the road, with a chance to move up to sixth place.
“[RGV] is always a difficult place to go and play,” said Rising Assistant Coach Danny Stone. “They have an experienced coach in Wilmer Cabrera. In the attack, they’re a creative, positive side that is good in transition. They have some clever attacking players. It’ll be a tough place to go and play.”
The last time Rising visited RGV on October 8, a 2022 playoff berth was still up for grabs, but the result didn’t go Phoenix’s way. It was the first time in the series that Rising, 6-1-4 all time against RGV, came up empty handed against the Toros.
“That game was a difficult one for us because we felt we performed quite well that day,” said Stone. “We played well but it went away from us because of mistakes. We caused ourselves difficulties and conceded goals. There was a penalty kick we were unable to convert at the end, so it was a disappointing day. We remember it well. That is only added motivation for this game. It’s not added pressure. It’s not something we think too much of but it’s a place and a result that is still in the back of our minds.”
In the front of the team’s mind is Danny Trejo, who was named the USL Championship Player of the Week on August 15, following his two goal, two assist performance vs. El Paso. Trejo’s recent run of form – seven goals and two assists in seven games – has seen the forward surpass teammate Manuel Arteaga (11G) in the Golden Boot race. Rising is now the only team with two players in the top five of league scoring.
“We’ve seen this from Danny Trejo for more than just this year,” said Stone. “He is a threating player running into space. He’s a good transition player. We’ve been able to get him into more of those situations over the last two or three games. Credit to Danny but also to the rest of the team for providing good service.”
With 11 matches remaining in the regular season, Phoenix looks to be gaining momentum at the right time, on both sides of the ball. Three of Rising’s four clean sheets this season have come in the last seven games, but getting a shutout against RGV won’t be easy. The Texans have scored 24 goals in its last 12 games and have not been held scoreless since June 3.
“We’ll be focusing on us,” said Stone. “If we play the way we know we are capable, we’re confident we can get a result. We’ll see what the game brings. The players are in a good, spirited position, to be able to go in and attack this game positively. We’re aiming to go and get three points.”