Match Preview Presented by Northern Arizona University
Rising (5-4-7) returns to 38th St/Washington to face Memphis 901 FC (8-2-4) this Saturday, July 1 (8 p.m.) on Military Appreciation Night.
Rising are coming off a 1-1 draw away at Oakland, where Manuel Arteaga scored a stoppage-time equalizer in the dying embers of the game to give Phoenix a point on the road. Rising are now undefeated in its last four games.
According to head coach Juan Guerra, Rising’s ability to put the ball in the back of the net has been crucial to its run of form.
“We’ve scored eight goals in four matches,” Guerra said. “This was one of the things we identified and talked about a few weeks ago. Yes, the team is playing well. We’re controlling games. We’re holding possession, but not creating enough. We made some tweaks and we’ve seen the players are enjoying it. It’s giving us more production in the final third. That is leading to more goals.
“We’re ambitious. We want to keep pushing. We always want more. We hope we can see continuous growth and development carrying on this week. Yes, we’ve been doing things a lot better. We’re on a clear ascending curve, but there’s also a lot of things we need to keep improving. We want to keep connecting performances to results. We want to be able to keep playing well, keep controlling games, create a lot of chances that lead to goals and then score goals that lead to wins. This Saturday at home, hopefully we can do all of those things and send 10,000 people home very happy.”
Rising have gotten results against some good teams over the past four games, but none were as good as Memphis 901 FC, which will provide a stern test for Guerra’s side. Memphis come into Saturday’s game as one of the best teams in the USL Championship on form, having won four out of its last five games. 901 have not lost a game in the league since March. The club has yet to lose an away game.
Playing one of the best teams in the USL gives Rising’s players extra impetus to play well according to Guerra.
“It’s a very strong team with a very good coach,” Guerra said. “Memphis has a clear identity. They have a lot of players that’ve been together for almost two years. That makes the team very strong and very dangerous. They’re also in good form. It’s gonna be a good game. We see it for us as a highly motivational game. It’s motivating to play versus teams that are doing a good job. You want to measure yourself versus those teams. We’re in a good run of form right now too. We had a great week, starting at home versus Louisville and then it ended with two very difficult road matches. We’re headed in the right direction. It is going to be an important game in front of our people, so let’s see how it goes. We want to be fully fresh, physically and mentally for a game that’s going to demand a lot from us.”