Match Preview Presented by Northern Arizona University
Phoenix Rising FC travels to San Antonio this Saturday, April 22 (live on Arizona Family’s Sports & Entertainment Network and ESPN+ at 5:30 p.m.) to take on the defending USL Champions.
Last time Phoenix traveled to San Antonio, Rising came away with a 2-0 victory. Since that match, no team in the USL Championship has beaten San Antonio at home – a stretch of 21 regular-season matches.
“This is a challenge we need,” said midfielder Baboucarr Njie. “We have a great group of talented people. We need to match their energy. They’re going to come at us with a lot of intensity. Individual battles will win this game. We need to be better at that – taking pride in winning our 50-50 balls. We need to show we’re tougher, we’re more mentally ready.”
San Antonio is coming off a 1-0 loss in Louisville City last weekend while Rising drew Monterey Bay, 1-1, at 38th St/Washington.
“We weren’t happy after last game,” said Njie. “We must be more clinical. We can play beautiful football, but if we’re not clean on our chances we’ll get punished. There’s no point in playing pretty if you’re not going to be dominant in the final third.”
Despite going 12-16-6 last season, Rising defeated the eventual USL Champs twice, shutting them out, 5-0.
“We were not as good as we wanted to be last year,” said Njie. “But we took the San Antonio games personally. If we take the same mentality into this game, it will be nothing less.”
“It’s going to be a battle,” said Rising Head Coach Juan Guerra. “San Antonio is a team that is very direct. It takes pride in intensity, character and mentality. Those are good things to test yourself against. We’re talented. We know we have technical ability, but can we go there and match them in character and intensity? If we can, we’re going to have a very good weekend in San Antonio.”