Rising Match Preview Presented by NAU
After a four-point week that included a comprehensive, 4-0, win against Colorado Springs, Phoenix Rising returns to Wild Horse Pass this Saturday, August 6 (7:30 p.m.), to face Las Vegas Lights FC for the third time this season.
In Vegas on March 19 (2-1) and June 24 (3-2), Phoenix lost to Lights FC for the first time since Oct. 2018.
“With Las Vegas, it’s always about transition,” said Rising head coach Rick Schantz. “Cal Jennings, Danny Trejo, [Alvaro] Quezada, they have a list of guys that are very dangerous individually. We need to be focused in transition, focused when defending. We cannot lose concentration.”
In its last match vs. Colorado, Phoenix limited the third-best attacking team in the league to just three shots on target.
“For us, everything starts with defending,” said Schantz. “Specifically, defending from the front. JJ [Williams] was exceptional. He cut off their midfield. Against one of the best attacking teams in the league, we were really good, especially in transitional moments. In Louisville and Oakland, we were holding on a little bit, but Ben [Lundt] came up big. With these last few editions, the culture in the locker room has changed for the positive.”
The acquisition of Williams on July 27 paid immediate dividends. The 6’4” forward scored on just his second shot of the game to give Phoenix a 2-0 lead against Switchbacks FC. Other reinforcements, David Rodriguez (Aug. 4), Marcus Ferkranus (July 26), Lamin Jawneh (June 20) and Koze Donasiyano (June 4), coupled with the return of Arturo Rodriguez from injury will now challenge Schantz to juggle a lineup full of in-form talent.
“Bobby [Dulle]’s willingness to listen to what I needed and then go make it happen is unbelievable,” said Schantz. “He worked tirelessly to make the deal that got JJ [Williams] here.
In the midfield, Luis [Seijas] was exceptional [vs. Colorado] and we won the game. Koze [Donasiyano] was out with a red card. It’s not going to be easy for Arturo [Rodriguez]. He will have to compete. That’s what I’ve told all of them. The guys that are performing and getting results will play. Arturo is a competitor. He wants to be on the field. It was nice to see him out there. He showed maturity and he created a goal.”