Match Preview Presented by Northern Arizona University
Phoenix Rising (6-5-8) travels to Sacramento Republic (9-3-8) this Wednesday at 8 p.m. (live on Arizona’s Family Sports and Entertainment Network and ESPN+).
Rising are coming off a close 1-1 draw at home against Colorado Springs, whilst Sacramento lost 3-0 away against New Mexico United. Rising went down 1-0 in the first half but bounced back strongly in the second, equalizing late on through Danny Trejo to share a point. Saturday was the third time this season Rising have equalized with five or less minutes left in the game.
Phoenix now embarks on a tough road trip, playing the top team in the Western Conference in Sacramento on Wednesday. The road trip concludes with a showdown on Saturday in Monterey Bay against team that won four games on the trot in June. Sacramento have only lost one game at home this season out of 11 played, winning seven.
However, Sacramento have struggled of late. It has only won one game out of the last eight, whilst only scoring seven goals and conceding nine in that stretch. Republic has drawn its last two home games and have not won back-to-back games since May.
Rising coach Juan Guerra wants to avoid a similar slowdown for Rising.
“We play in a very tough league in which teams that start very strong at times have slowed down a little bit,” Guerra said. “We’ve seen it in the past, you see teams that start strong, they slow down a little. Teams that don’t start very strong can pick up and be very strong towards the end. We’ve been steady in a way. We’ve been in the middle pack for pretty much the first half of the season. Now hopefully we can keep growing. We could keep that ascending curve we have, which will allow us the opportunity to finish in the top four.”