Match Preview Presented by Northern Arizona University
Phoenix Rising FC (1-1-2) returns home to face Monterey Bay (2-2-1) on Show Your Colors Night this Saturday, April 15 at 38th St/Washington.
The match will be a clash of styles as Monterey Bay is accustomed to playing without the ball. The Union has lost the possession battle in four of five matches this season and currently lead the league in goalscoring with 11. Rising has won the possession battle in three of four matches this season.
“We feel comfortable with the ball and they’re fine not having it and countering,” said Head Coach Juan Guerra. “It seems like every chance they get they’re converting. They’re very clinical. To get a win, we’ll need to move the ball well from side to side and find some spaces in between the lines. When we lose the ball, we’ll need to be focused, protect the middle and defend well in transition.”
An expansion team in 2022, Rising and Monterey Bay have only come head-to-head twice. Both matches produced six goals – a 4-2 Rising win and a 3-3 draw in California.
“Monterey got off to a great start last season,” said Guerra. “They were on a clear ascending curve at the end of last season. They kept about 80% of the team and added some key pieces. They’re better than they were last year. Their new players are making an impact and things are going their way.”
Things tend to go Monterey’s way when they don’t have the ball. The club has scored nine of its 11 goals in two matches – a season-opening 4-2 win where it held 45% possession and its last match, a 5-3 slugfest against New Mexico United where Union held 43% possession.
Alex Dixon leads the way in scoring for Monterey with five on the season, two of which have come on the counterattack.
“Alex Dickson is technically gifted,” said Guerra. “He does a good job in tight spaces. They give him the freedom to float and he’s athletic. If he’s running at you with speed, it’s dangerous. He really fits well with their style of play.”
Having earned a win against the top team in the East on Sunday, Rising is settling into its new style of play.
“We’re right where we want to be,” said Guerra. “Our style is clear. The next phase is to find consistency but we’re happy where we are in the project. We need to win while continuing to transform and get better at the same time.”