Match Preview Presented by NAU
Phoenix Rising FC will play for the first time in Alabama this Easter Sunday, April 9 at 2:30 p.m. on Arizona’s Family Sports & Entertainment Network and ESPN+.
Legion and Rising met for the first time in Arizona last season, an eventual 1-0 win for Birmingham on June 4, 2022. Prosper Kasim scored the lone goal in the 58th minute, sneaking a low shot beyond the reach of the goalkeeper and inside the far post. Kasim has one assist in 159 minutes for Legion this season while teammate Neco Brett has three goals in four appearances to lead the team.
“Birmingham is a great team that is well coached,” said Head Coach Juan Guerra. “They understand the way they want to play and they brought in the players to do it. They have a balanced squad. They have some depth. When they defend, they don’t leave a lot of spaces. If you turn the ball over, they can counter quickly with athleticism and talent. They’re a good test for us. We’ll see what we’re made of against them on Sunday.”
Sunday’s match will feature the top two vote getters from the USL Championship’s Player of the Week voting from Week 4. Brett and Rising’s Manuel Arteaga both scored two goals last time out. Brett earned 36 percent of the ballot to claim the honor while Arteaga finished tied for second on 21 percent.
Birmingham took down USL League One side Chattanooga Red Wolves, 4-1, on Wednesday, April 5, while Rising won 1-0 against Greenville Triumph. Legion’s Juan Agudelo scored in stoppage time of the first half of his match. He added a second in the 63rd minute to lead his squad to the win. Despite going down a man due to a red card that was issued to Dupont in the 55th minute, Legion scored in the 63rd and 87th minutes.
Rising used the midweek match to build connections on a squad that features 17 new players.
“Greenville is a good team,” said Guerra. “I knew they would not make it easy on us. To win at home playing well, controlling the game through possession, we should have created more. That has been our focus this week but also, some guys really made a case to say, I’m here and I’m fighting for a spot in the 18.”
One player in particular was Carlos Anguiano.
“I love Carlos,” said Guerra. “He’s a great teammate. He truly embraces his role. He did not miss a pass. He had a 100% pass completion rate. I am happy for him. Moving forward, he is going to help us with competition and depth.”
“We have the understanding and awareness that we’re a good team now,” added Guerra. “We can fight with the best and get results. Now we have to start getting the plus threes. We play a high risk, high reward game. We need to be brave and confident. Sunday will be a good opportunity for us to test ourselves against one of the best teams in the East.”