Match Preview Presented by Northern Arizona University
Phoenix Rising (7-6-8) returns to 38th St/Washington to face San Antonio FC (10-4-7) this Saturday, August 5 (8 p.m.) during 90’s Night.
Rising are coming off a 2-0 win away vs. Monterey Bay, a game in which Phoenix were led to victory by the excellence of goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo and the ruthless finishing of Danny Trejo and Manuel Arteaga.
Rising coach Juan Guerra also pointed to his team’s cohesiveness and organization as being key to its victory last weekend.
“We’re a high pressing team,” Guerra said. “We like to press teams high up the field to try to force mistakes or force them to play long and then try to regain the ball as quickly as we can. That eagerness to press high and also changing the system to a back four led to us looking too stretched at times. As a result, teams have been able to play through us. Against Monterrey, we kept the compactness. We pressed high collectively when we needed to press high. There were other moments that it was not necessary and we were dropping into that mid block too. We were very compact and patient, but we didn’t lack aggressiveness and intensity in that block.”
This week’s game against San Antonio will be a good test for Rising’s ability to stay compact and organized. San Antonio are the second seed in the Western Conference and have scored the most goals in the USL Championship. They have won four out of its last five games, and feature the joint-top scorer in the USL Championship, Tani Oluwaseyi (12 goals in 13 appearances). Oluwaseyi scored four goals last week against Hartford Athletic.
San Antonio will be a tough opponent, but Guerra believes the home advantage could be decisive for Rising.
“At the end of the day we focus on us,” Guerra said. “They’re coming over here. They’re the visitors. We’re the local team. We have the responsibility to keep our identity and to be the ones that dictate the pace and the tempo of the game. We’re at home so we decide how this game is going to be. Obviously we’re going to do whatever we need to do in order to get a positive result and win at home. But definitely I can tell you that we’re going to protect our identity. We’re going to try to play our way as much as we can.”
A win against San Antonio could catapult Rising as far up the table as fifth, but Guerra is taking it one match at a time.
“We had a conversation after Sacramento,” he said. “We’re just going to take it one game at a time. That’s the way we’re approaching this. We don’t have another game after San Antonio. That’s the only game for us. After Sacramento, all our energy and focus was on Monterey. After Monterey, yes, we got three points. We got the result and now I don’t even know who we play after San Antonio. San Antonio is who we’re thinking about. We’re going to take it one game at a time. That is our full focus.”