Rising Preview Presented by NAU
Per Phoenix Rising FC head coach Juan Guerra, the team played Wednesday’s match against Rio Grande Valley FC Toros with the mentality of a “final” and got a much-needed three points in a 2-1 win at Wild Horse Pass.
The win puts Rising back into the playoff conversation with eight matches left to play in the 2022 regular season.
“It was pretty much a final,” said Guerra in his postgame talk. “Before we walked on the field today, we spoke about every game [remaining] being a final. It was tonight. and at moments I see very good sparks. The tactical awareness continues to develop. The understanding is there as well. Tonight was massive, but we cannot get too happy about it. We have another final in three days.”
Rising has two days to prepare to face Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, a team they dismantled in a 4-0 win at Wild Horse Pass on July 30, but also a team that sits comfortably in playoff position with 48 points.
“We handled the physical battle against Colorado last time we faced them,” said Aodhan Quinn, who picked up his sixth assist of the season on Wednesday. “We matched up well and took our chances. We scored some good goals. We also didn’t give them any opportunities, which is good because they have Hadji Barry, Elvis Amoh, Michee Ngalina… They have great players up front that can capitalize on their chances. If we can get back to getting clean sheets, we’ll have a great chance of winning games.”
Rising’s defense wasn’t perfect in the win vs. RGV but it was close. The team held the Toros to one goal, which came on a turnover attempting to play out of the back – a mistake Guerra is comfortable conceding while his team adapts to the style of play he expects.
“I want to play,” said Guerra. “I want to move the ball quickly. I want our defenders and goalkeeper to play through and absorb pressure. If we can do that it will create space in the lines and allow us to play through them. Making mistakes is part of the process. I want them to play a certain way.”
No matter the way, Phoenix needs to once again, pick up points against one of the top teams in the West on Saturday if it wants to climb the table fast enough to qualify for the postseason.
“Every game from here out is massive for us just because of the hole we put ourselves in,” said Quinn. “But there’s always a boost when a new manager comes in. We have a positivity boost. We changed the style of play a little bit. We’re a little more possession-based now and the locker room is feeling very positive about the changes.”