Phoenix Rising FC travels to Sacramento on Wednesday for a Round of 32 U.S. Open Cup match vs. the Republic (7:30 p.m. on ESPN+).
Rising lost Kevon Lambert to an injury during its 3-0 win vs. San Antonio on Saturday, but center backs Manuel Madrid and newcomer Sivert Haugli checked in and held the second-best team in the Western Conference Standings without a goal.
“You never know who’s going to switch on or be needed,” said Rising head coach Rick Schantz. “We’re going through a difficult time now [with injuries]. We have a lot of games. We have the Open Cup match and then on Sunday, we’re playing against a team that will have had a week off, but that’s part of the game. We have to be able to put the next guy out there and get after it. We’ve proven that we can do so far.”
Historically, Phoenix is 4-2-4 against Sacramento since rebranding as Rising ahead of the 2017 season. Since the rebrand, Rising has played five times in Sacramento, winning twice. Both of those wins came last season, 1-0, on May 29, and 2-1 on June 26. Santi Moar netted the lone goal of the match in the May game, while David Egbo and Solomon Asante found the back of the net for Rising in June.
“They changed almost the entire roster since last season,” said Schantz. “Jack Gurr is a very good attacking right back. Emil Cuello was a strong addition to the team. They’re really strong with Matt LaGrassa in midfield with L.F. Fernandez. These two really powerful holding midfielders. Sacramento is loaded with talent. Credit to their GM and Mark Briggs for the team they have put together. Mark is getting the best out of them right now.”
Sacramento is 3-0-2 at home this season with wins against El Paso (3-1), Tulsa (2-1) and Monterey Bay (2-1). The Republic’s defense has not allowed more than a goal at home in seven games.
“Sacramento is a very good team,” said Schantz. “We’re on the road against a good team with three games in 10 days. We’re coming off a match against San Antonio that was very physical. Look, our backs are up against the wall. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think this is where we thrive.”
Sacramento was pushed to the brink in it’s third round U.S. Open Cup match against Central Valley Fuego on April 20. The Republic was tied 1-1 in stoppage time before Rodrigo Lopez buried a penalty kick to end the match in regulation.
“We never really change what’s important to us or not,” said Schantz. “It’s a Cup game. Whether we’re in the first round or the third round or if we somehow managed to get to the final, which would be a dream for everybody. It would become the most important game in probably the history of USL, but we’re not there yet. We’re a long way from it. The importance of individual games doe does not change between now and Sunday. It’s just the next game we’re playing. We want to win, no matter what.”