Rising Preview Presented by NAU
When the 2022 USL Championship schedule dropped, Rising’s bye week in August appeared to be a time to relax and regroup ahead of playoffs. The reality is the team’s bye week was the most compelling of the season as the club mutually parted ways with a coach that led the team to two Western Conference Championships and a Regular Season Title in the last four years.
Juan Guerra was named the club’s new head coach on Monday, August 22 – five days before the club travels to El Paso to take on a team it likely needs to bypass to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since rebranding as Rising ahead of the 2017 season.
“Winning is very difficult,” said Guerra in his introductory session with media. “We live in a society where people are used to getting things quickly. You click your finger and you get things online. That’s not the reality of what life is – it’s a process. Now we’re in a process here. We need to work and adjust things and we’ll see how long it takes. We’re going to try and change it as quick as we can, but it is going to take effort from absolutely everyone.
I know the quality in that locker room. I have a lot of pieces to look at and play different formations. We can adapt depending on our rival. It’s not so much about what I want to do. It’s about what is in the locker room and which pieces can give me their best at the moment.”
Rising lost, 1-0, to El Paso for the first time in four all-time meetings this June. Since then, both clubs have only won three games combined but Guerra coached Oakland to a 4-0 win vs. El Paso on July 16. Rising hopes Guerra can replicate his success against the Texas side immediately.
“We need to learn how we defend against a team that is going to keep the ball,” said Guerra of El Paso. “How can we expose them? How do we put ourselves into a position to be successful? That’s what we have been working on this week.”
Since Guerra toppled El Paso on July 16, Locomotive has gone 0-4-1 and lost three at home in its last five outings – all positive signs for a Phoenix side that needs results now if it is going to be a part of the 2022 postseason.
“The idea has to be clear,” said Guerra. “Adversity will come. It happens to absolutely everyone. Everyone in that locker room has the same opportunity and responsibility. Maybe they will play different roles now. The players all understand that. Everyone in the locker room is together. They have full awareness of where we are and what we need to do to reverse this situation. At the end of the day, it is going to take all of us pushing together in one direction.”