Rising Match Preview presented by Northern Arizona University
Phoenix Rising FC (10-8-8) won its second match in five days, moving up the table to sixth place with a 2-1 win against one of the best sides in the league on Wednesday. Despite being just minutes removed from an emotional win vs. Sacramento Republic (13-5-9), Rising Head Coach Juan Guerra could barely make it to the postgame press conference before mentioning the importance of this weekend’s match against Rio Grande Valley.
“The position the boys put us in with this win tonight,” Guerra started. “We now have an incredible opportunity we must take advantage of on Saturday.”
By beating the Republic, Rising answered the questions that chased the team following it’s 4-0 loss in Sacramento on July 26.
“We were playing against the No. 1 team in the USL Championship,” said Guerra. “It was difficult. It was very tactical. We had to stay patient. They wanted us to get desperate. They wanted us to take an extra risk that may not have been necessary, so they could catch us in transition. Our boys understood the moments to go forward.”
Putting three points in the pocket on Wednesday sets up the possibility of climbing into the top four in the West on Saturday. A win and an Oakland loss vs. Sacramento that same night puts Phoenix in position to host its first-round playoff match come October. It is also a chance to rectify a 1-0 loss in RGV suffered just two weeks ago.
“Yes, we put ourselves in a great position,” said Guerra. “Now, we need to take advantage. We do not get relaxed. I’m not letting anyone in that locker room get relaxed. We go again Saturday.”
“This one is out the door,” agreed Captain Darnell King. “We move on to the next one. You aim to gain momentum going into the back half of the season. It’s a matter of keeping it heading into the playoffs. We have to keep pushing. We know it’s close.”