Rising Match Preview Presented by Northern Arizona University
Phoenix Rising FC opens the 2023 season this Saturday, March 11, vs. Charleston Battery at 5:30 p.m. local time.
WHERE TO WATCH & LISTEN
• Arizona’s Family Sports and Entertainment Network (OTA channel 44 & Cox channel 13)
• Fans can stream the match live on ESPN+ or via Arizona’s Family App anywhere in Arizona
• Fans on the move can turn on the audio stream by following Phoenix Rising on Twitter, Facebook or directly from the Rising App
Head Coach Juan Guerra spoke to media following the team’s jersey reveal party at Walter Studios in downtown Phoenix on Wednesday.
“We need to go to Charleston and continue to believe in one idea,” Guerra said. “We understand it is not going to be perfect, but now we are competing for points. I’m excited to see how the players preform… How much can they turn it on now? We recruited players with character – guys that are competitors. We have quality individuals that understand how to win and how hard it is to win.”
High on Guerra’s list of priorities on Saturday will be shutting down Battery striker Augustine Williams, who scored 16 goals and had three assists in 2022. Williams is one of seven returning players for the Battery after last year’s 6-21-7 season. The Battery’s turnover nearly matches Rising’s, who brought back six players from last season.
“[Battery Head Coach] Ben [Pirmann] is a coach I respect so much,” said Guerra. “We were the only two USL Championship coaches in the U.S. pro licensing course this offseason. We spent a lot of hours together. I have an idea of the team Ben has built. He’ll come at us with a lot of intensity. He likes to be aggressive on the press. Like us, they prefer to keep possession. They’ll look to hurt us in transition if we’re not clean.”
Another familiar face in Charleston will be former Rising center back AJ Cochran, who signed with the Battery during the offseason. Cochran spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons in Phoenix, appearing in 37 matches and scoring twice. The 6-3 defender spent the past two years with Indy Eleven.
Asked if he was excited to finally see the team he helped build on the field for a regular-season match, Guerra remained stoic
“I am excited for Saturday, but I’m keeping the anxiety levels low,” he said. “It is a very long season. Saturday is an important match and we start with two on the road. It’ll be important to add points and gain confidence playing the way we want to play. The focus will be to continue to develop as time goes on. We have to peak at the right time.”
For Guerra, the fan interaction of Wednesday’s jersey reveal will go a long way in providing a solid connection to the Phoenix community.
“Part of my speech of why I came back here last year was about the importance of representing this community,” said Guerra. “It’s what I spoke about with these players when I reached out to them all about coming here to play this season. They understand exactly who they are representing when they step on the pitch. It’s a beautiful responsibility and after tonight’s event, it could not be more clear.”