Phoenix Rising FC is finally home.
The club has completed its transition to Central Phoenix and will open its new stadium at 38th St/Washington in front of a capacity crowd this Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m.
On the pitch, Rising Head Coach Juan Guerra enjoyed a bye last weekend. The break provided time to nurse injuries and get the full squad back in unison. Eddie Munjoma, Baboucarr Njie and Henry Uzochukwu returned from injury against San Diego on March 19, but in limited minutes. Those three will now be joined by a portion of the five players that remained on the injury report, giving Guerra the most complete squad he has had to work with just in time for the home opener.
“We were trying to avoid injuries with the subs we made in the second half against San Diego,” said Guerra on March 19. “Uzo was just getting back from a hamstring injury. We knew he couldn’t go any more minutes. We’re looking for results, the season has started but we also need to make sure with the way we’re doing things, that we are taking care of the players.”
Despite the returnees, Phoenix fell, 3-0, in San Diego.
“The game was part of our process,” said Guerra. “There is no chance the result reflected what the game was like. It does reflect where we are at in our process. That’s how I see it today. I saw a lot of good moments. We were the team we want to be but we need consistency. We need more minutes together. Until we play more games together, there is no other way to get where we want to be – today hurts. Today we swallow poison, but we keep moving forward.”
On the other half of the pitch on Saturday will be Loyal SC, which lost, 1-0, to Sacramento in its first road match of the season on March 25. San Diego goalkeeper Koke Vegas allowed his first goal of the season in that game, despite being a top performer in the match.
Vegas ranks eighth in the league with eight saves this season, two off the pace of Rising’s Rocco Rio Novos, who had a solid performance against San Diego last time out.
“Rocco has been consistent,” said Guerra. “I like the way he helped us absorb pressure and build out of the back. He also made a couple of big saves. That is what we want from our goalkeeper.”
Here’s to Vegas being the busier goalkeeper in Saturday’s rematch, which will be played in front of 10,000 rowdy Phoenicians at Rising’s new home.